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THE FATAL WEAKNESS, George Kelly’s last produced play, tells the story of Ollie Espenshade—an incurable romantic who discovers, after 28 years of marriage, that her husband is a lying cheat. It opened in New York on November 19, 1946 in a production starring Ina Claire. Although Claire’s triumphant return to Broadway after a five year absence garnered much of the press attention, Kelly’s play turned more than a few critics’ heads.
Admired for his character-driven satires and gimlet-eyed plays of modern manners, George Kelly (1887-1974) led a distinguished career in the New York theatre from the 1910s through the 1940s.
In DONOGOO by Jules Romains, ambition and imagination collude to create fact out of fraud. The play tells the story of Lamendin, a desperate man, and Le Trouhadec, a professor of geography who longs for election to the Academy of Sciences. Together they unwittingly set in motion a stock market swindle of global proportions. Investors, pioneers and prospectors alike are driven to seek their fortune in Donogoo—a place that doesn’t exist.
Romains was born Louis-Henri-Jean Farigoule on August 26, 1885 in the village of Saint-Julien Chapteuil. He spent most of his childhood in Paris, where his father was a teacher. In 1902, he also published his first poem, “Le Chef-d’oeuvre” (“The Masterpiece”) in La Revue jeune. He published under the pen name he would use the rest of his life—Jules Romains—so chosen because it was easy to pronounce, memorable, and expressed his love of Rome.
LONDON WALL premiered in 1931 at the Duke of York’s Theatre, one of five plays by John Van Druten that enjoyed success in London in the early 30’s. The play was acclaimed for its deftly etched characters and richly detailed atmosphere, yet it languished in obscurity until London’s Finborough Theater successfully revived it in 2013. One year later our warmly-received production marked the play’s American premiere.
Best known today for such midcentury Broadway hits as Old Acquaintance, The Voice of the Turtle, I Remember Mama, Bell, Book and Candle, and I Am a Camera (which inspired the classic Broadway musical Cabaret), John Van Druten wrote deftly observed, character-driven plays that ranged from the realistic atmosphere of his early West End plays, to the sentimental charm of his wartime hits, to the daring allurements of his final works.
“N.C. Hunter’s beautiful, shamefully neglected comedy was performed only once in London in 1951, and receives its American premiere here,” wrote The New Yorker of Mint Theater’s A PICTURE OF AUTUMN. “It’s about an aging, once prosperous family living in an aging, once grand manor, and the echoes of Chekhov are unmistakable, if subdued and Anglicized. It’s a big, generous play, exquisitely written, both funny and touching.” 1
N.C. HUNTER (1908-1971) was one of the leading English dramatists of the 1950s and early 1960s. As theatrical revolution—spearheaded by John Osborne and his school of “angry young men”—exploded around him, Hunter kept his head down and provided moving portraits of a people questioning their own purpose in chaotic post-war England.
Mint Theater continued its exhaustive exploration into the work of Teresa Deevy—which began with WIFE TO JAMES WHELAN in 2010 and TEMPORAL POWERS in 2011—with a production of Deevy’s compelling drama, Katie Roche. The play’s mercurial heroine is a servant girl whose romantic ambitions reach for the heavens. “Katie Roche is the third Deevy work to be produced by the Mint in as many years. It may be the best one yet,” 1 wrote David Barbour in Lighting and Sound America.
Teresa Deevy was born in 1894 as the youngest of thirteen children in Waterford, Ireland. Though she intended to teach, Teresa contracted Meniere’s disease while at University College Dublin and lost her hearing. She went to London to study lip-reading and the theater provided her an opportunity to practice—there she discovered her calling.
“There must be no shortage of little-known, finely crafted, funny, thought-provoking plays exploring the fracturing of English society in the early twentieth century, because the Mint Theatre Company keeps coming up with them,”1 wrote the New Yorker of MARY BROOME. Monkhouse’s biting comedy tells the story of a household turned upside down by an upstairs/downstairs liaison between the ne’er do well son and the honest housemaid.
Allan Monkhouse (1858-1936) was a dramatist, novelist, and critic known for his piquant portrayal of middle class life in northern England. He startled audiences with complex characters, who pierced societal niceties as they grappled with the contradictions of a rapidly changing world.
LOVE GOES TO PRESS is a wise-cracking romantic farce set in a makeshift press camp in the village of Poggibonsi, Italy, 1944. Headlining are two smart, sassy and determined journalists who brave the front lines to get their stories. Annabelle and Jane, both glamorous American women, are autobiographical caricatures of the authors: Martha Gellhorn and Virginia Cowles.
Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998) covered nearly every major confl ict during her lifetime, from the Spanish Civil War to the U.S. invasion of Panama (when she was 81). Famously, she was one of the few reporters who witnessed D-Day; she did so by locking herself in the toilet of a hospital ship – the first ship to survive the crossing. Gellhorn published 17 books during her six-decade career as a journalist, short story writer, and novelist.
In 1912, a new play by an unknown author took London by storm. Originally scheduled for only four performances at London’s Royal Court Theatre, RUTHERFORD AND SON by Githa Sowerby quickly transferred to the West End, receiving its New York premiere within the same year.
After launching the Teresa Deevy Project with WIFE TO JAMES WHELAN in 2010, the Mint continued its exploration of “one of the most undeservedly neglected and significant playwrights of the 20th century” (The Irish Times) with a production of TEMPORAL POWERS.
Teresa Deevy was born in 1894, the youngest of thirteen children. Intent on a teaching career, Teresa enrolled in the University College, Dublin in 1913. After about a year she began to feel ill; her ears rang and she suffered frequent bouts of vertigo. She was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, an incurable condition caused by fluid imbalance in the inner ear. Within a few years, Deevy had completely lost her hearing.
“The Mint Theater Company, one of New York’s most admired Off-Broadway troupes, specializes in neglected plays that have slipped through the cracks. More often than not it comes up with gems, among the most notable of which was Rachel Crothers’s SUSAN AND GOD, first seen in 1937 and revived by the Mint to impressive effect in 2006. Now the company has gone back to the same well with an equally strong staging of another Crothers play, A LITTLE JOURNEY, which hasn’t been performed professionally in New York since it closed on Broadway in 1919—and guess what? It’s just as good.”1
Rachel Crothers (1878-1958) was among America’s most successful and produced playwrights during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Nearly 30 of her plays opened on Broadway between 1906 and 1937. “Although it rare now to find anyone who has heard of her,” wrote the New York Times in 1980, “Miss Crothers at the apex of her career was a symbol of success in the commercial theater.”
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