The Mint Theater Company continues its infatuation with Irish playwright Teresa Deevy (1894-1963), whose plays were previously staged by the Mint. On this occasion the offering consists of four short plays that again demonstrate her concern for women and class status.
Deevy was very perceptive in creating her characters and placing them in environments that dictate challenges. Her career, which included plays produced by Ireland’s national theater, The Abbey, flourished mainly in the 1930s. She was remarkable, able to overcome the obstacle of her losing her hearing when she was 20. She pursued lip reading, which she practiced by often going to the theater, and as I noted previously with respect to her work, she was not deaf to the ways of life that she explored. (See under Search reviews of "Wife to James Whelan" and "Katie Roche.")
The plays under the title “The Suitcase Under the Bed,” are all directed by the Mint’s artistic director, Jonathan Bank, with precise understanding of Deevy’s work. Included are “Strange Birth,” “In the Cellar of My Friend,” “Holiday House,” and “The King of Spain’s Daughter.” It is intriguing to see how the playwright pays special attention to the problems of women in the various settings.
In one a woman loves a young man who goes off to become a monk, leaving her the only choice of marrying his father. In another play, a wife becomes jealous when the husband’s ex love turns up at a summer gathering and works her wiles.
The playwright is insightful in her male characterizations as well, as when she conjures a postman in love who delivers a personal letter to the object of his affection. The plays are just long enough to hold our attention without overstaying their welcome.
This sort of compilation requires excellent actors who can be skilled if required to play contrasting roles. Director Bank’s cast members come through in grand form. Included are Ellen Adair, Gina Costigan, Cynthia Mace, Aidan Redmond, A.J. Shively, Colin Ryan and Sarah Nicole Deaver.
On display at the theater for purchase are two volumes of Deevy’s plays under the title of “Teresa Deevy Reclaimed,” edited by Jonathan Bank, John P. Harrington and Christopher Morash. At the Beckett Theater, 410 West 42nd Street. Reviewed August 25, 2017.