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Mint Theater Company Presents "The Suitcase Under the Bed" at the Beckett Theatre
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Mint Theater Company Presents "The Suitcase Under the Bed" at the Beckett Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights


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Mint Theater Company
Jonathan Bank, Producing Artistic Director
www.minttheater.org
Presents:

The Suitcase Under the Bed
(Show Web Page)

By Teresa Deevy
Directed by Jonathan Bank

At the
Beckett Theatre
(Theatre Row Website)
410 West 42nd Street
NY, NY
212.279.4200

With:
Ellen Adair, Gina Costigan, Sarah Nicole Deaver
Cynthia Mace, Aidan Redmond, Colin Ryan, AJ Shively

Sets: Vicki R. Davis
Costumes: Andrea Varga
Lights: Zach Blane
Sound & Original Music: Jane Shaw
Props: Joshua Yocom
Dialects & Dramaturgy: Amy Stoller
Production Manager: Adam Gabel
Stage Manager: Jeff Meyers
Press Rep: David Gersten & Associates
Production Stage Manager: Pamela Edington
Illustration: Stafano Imbert
Graphics: Hey Jude Design, Inc.
Casting: Stephanie Klapper, CSA
Advertising & Marketing: The Pekoe Group

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 19, 2017


Teresa Deevy, of Waterford, Ireland, the youngest of 13 children, and deaf since she was 20 years old, had six plays produced at the Abbey, Ireland’s National Theatre, between 1930 and 1936. Many of her works, however, had never arrived on stage, the plight of women playwrights for centuries. Jonathan Bank, Producing Artistic Director of Mint Theater Company, and Director of tonight’s collection of four one-act plays, is committed to the Mint’s mission, that of discovering and staging long-lost or forgotten plays. Some years ago, he arranged to visit Teresa Deevy’s childhood home, and, lo and behold, he found two suitcases under Ms. Deevy’s bed with typescripts of her plays, many unpublished. Thus was born the Mint’s Teresa Deevy Project in 2009. The Mint proceeded to produce Deevy plays in 2010 (Wife to James Whelan), 2011 (Temporal Powers), and 2013 (Katie Roche). In addition, Mr. Bank, who had scanned all Ms. Deevy’s typescripts in Ireland, published two volumes (which Mr. Bank was kind enough to present to me on my arrival tonight at The Beckett), titled Teresa Deevy Reclaimed. Volume One includes the three, three-act plays, above, that were already seen at the Mint, and Volume Two includes ten one-act plays, including the four that comprise tonight’s production, the aptly titled, The Suitcase Under the Bed.

The four one-act plays were about unexpected, elusive, or painfully unrequited love, and innate, submerged feelings that surface in glowing dramatizations. Women make decisions that seal their fate. The first, the published but never staged Strange Birth, taking place on a summer morning, in the hall of a boarding house, centers on Sara Meade (Ellen Adair, in an unassuming, luminous performance), the housekeeper, and Bill (Aidan Redmond, magnetic and emotional), the mailman. As Sara cleans, she observes family and romantic connections that the mail brings to everyone but her. She pronounces her satisfaction with living in solitude. Then, Bill arrives to check on a letter he had delivered to Sara that he wrote himself, a sincere love letter and proposal. The play’s dilemma relates to her reaction and decision. Vicki R. Davis’ dark, decorative wallpaper and framed landscape paintings, and the plainness of Andrea Varga’s costumes give this vignette a relaxed, natural ambiance and honesty of communication.

Following this play, during a scenic change, Sarah Nicole Deaver recited, in retro fashion, a luminous poem as the Entr’acte, “The Spiritual Canticle” by St. John of the Cross. The second play, the never produced or published In the Cellar of My Friend, involves a love triangle, of sorts, taking place in the breakfast room of Thomas Keene’s country residence, Grantsthorn. Belle (Sarah Nicole Deaver, who walks on stage, after her Entr’acte) is engaged to Barney (AJ Shively), but Barney’s father, Thomas, a barrister (Colin Ryan), is trying to persuade Belle to marry him, instead. Thomas’ sister, Patricia (Cynthia Mace), has some bon mots throughout this vignette. There’s much ado about the source of a bouquet of red roses, as well as which road was taken, and when, to meet Belle, a bit of subtle intrigue. In fact, in these Deevy plays, subtlety and unspoken thoughts are as critical as the spoken dialogue. The audience creates the missing cues, from gestures and intimation. I might assume that Ms. Deevy, a deaf adult, was highly attuned to such visual, interpersonal cues. The French doors and faux landscape backdrop spark the imagination, as well as the refined costumes.

After intermission, the never produced or published Holiday House was next, set in the hallway of the Mackeys’ Seafield House, in August. A wealthy, upscale family has created a quasi-French farce for itself (without the beds), as the matriarch, Cynthia Mace, oversees and amuses herself in her children’s cluttered relationships. Derek (a wily, self-absorbed Colin Ryan) brings his wife, Jil (an edgy, vulnerable Gina Costigan), to spend a month with his brother, Neil (a mature, but also self-serving Aidan Redmond) and his wife Doris (Ellen Adair), who had been once engaged to Derek. Derek and Neil’s sister, Hetty (Sarah Nicole Deaver) is lonely and opaque, but finds her way into the spoken and unspoken drama. Derek flirts with Doris, and so on…How the couples recouple, so to speak, is left to fate. The flagstone terrace floor with basket-weave furniture and French doors with a view, and the three-piece suits and pastel attire for the wives, add elegance to this vignette. The second Entr’acte was performed by Aidan Redmond, “A Drover”, by Padraic Colum.

Mr. Redmond walks onto the set for the final and fourth play, The King of Spain’s Daughter, which was published and produced by the Abbey. It’s set on a grassy road in April. Mr. Redmond plays a strong, intolerant laborer, Peter Kinsella, whose vulnerable, but strong-willed daughter, Annie (Sarah Nicole Deaver), is flirting and kissing Jim Harris (AJ Shively), a young laborer, who loves Annie, or so he thinks. Mrs. Marks (Cynthia Mace), a neighbor, advises Jim to be strong, if he wants to win Annie’s hand in marriage. But, nobody is strong enough to defy Peter, who takes Annie offstage “to teach her a lesson”, so to speak. Annie is forced to choose between Jim and working in a factory, as she’s not allowed to have unmarried romance. Annie’s ultimate fate is again left to surmise. Suddenly that flagstone terrace of the Irish country estate of the previous play has morphed into a farm scene, and the view is similar. Ms. Deaver’s simple hat, dress, and sweater adorn her conflicted, but stoic figure.

Kudos to Jonathan Bank and the entire cast of Mint Theater Company. Each actor is to be commended for such exemplary versatility and stamina in performing so many unique roles, and twice today, a Saturday. And, kudos to Teresa Deevy.



Mint Theater Company
Aidan Redmond and Ellen Adair
in "STRANGE BIRTH" by Teresa Deevy
Courtesy of Richard Termine



Mint Theater Company
Colin Ryan, A.J. Shively, Cynthia Mace
in "IN THE CELLAR OF MY FRIEND" by Teresa Deevy
Courtesy of Richard Termine



Mint Theater Company
Colin Ryan, Gina Costigan, Ellen Adair,
Sarah Nicole Deaver, Aidan Redmond
in "HOLIDAY HOUSE" by Teresa Deevy
Courtesy of Richard Termine



Mint Theater Company
A.J. Shively and Sarah Nicole Deaver
in "THE KING OF SPAIN'S DAUGHTER" by Teresa Deevy
Courtesy of Richard Termine


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net