The antagonism between two upscale British brothers is at the heart of the vintage play by A. A. Milne being given a stylish, well acted revival by the Mint Theatre Company. “The Lucky One” was produced on Broadway in 1922.
Milne is best known, of course, for “Winnie-the-Pooh,” but “The Lucky One” is a very adult drawing room comedy-drama that bristles with sophistication and is directed accordingly by Jesse Marchese. The setting is the country home of the well-established Sir James Farringdon, played elegantly by Wynn Harmon.
Robert David Grant plays Gerald Farringdon, a young man with fortune smiling on him as a member of the Foreign Office with prospects for advancement. His older brother Bob, played sullenly by Ari Brand, works in the business world. He has fallen into deep legal trouble as a result of manipulations by an associate, who has abandoned him with the mess. Prison is a real possibility.
There is also a woman in the equation, Pamela Carey, played nicely by Paton Ashbrook, who is betrothed to Gerald. Bob has been in love with her, yet she chose Gerald, who has gone along oblivious to the resentment of his older brother. Bob asks Gerald for help with his legal predicament, but Gerald is at first clearly reluctant to get involved.
There you have the ingredients for a brotherly explosion, and when all hits the fan, Gerald is surprised when Bob unleashes his anger in a head to head confrontation. Also, the romantic tables are turned. When Bob is going off to jail for a short term, Pamela, her feelings for him unleashed and her feelings for Gerald diminished, promises to await his release so that they can be wed.
One can feel sorry for Gerald, as he has been going through life with adulation without a clue as to underlying difficulties, and suddenly, while his professional career is moving along, his personal life is vacuous.
Brand’s performance as Bob is very one-note until the explosion of anger toward Gerald, but even when he wins Pamela his demeanor is solemn.
A scene-stealer is Cynthia Harris as the great-aunt, who has many good lines denoting her wisdom and humor, and Harris makes the most of them, dominating the stage whenever she makes an appearance. Various secondary characters, some adding silliness, round out the portrait of family and friends.
As customary with Mint Theater productions, all is done here in impeccable style to capture the milieu and its look, with sets by Vicki R. Davis and costumes by Martha Hally. At the Beckett Theatre, Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street. Phone: 212-239-6200. Reviewed May 19, 2017.