‘The Suitcase Under the Bed’ – A Versatile Program of Four Short Plays

Now playing through September 30, 2017 is the Mint Theater’s production of The Suitcase Under the Bed.   The program consists of four short plays written by Teresa Deevy. The careful consideration given by Mint Theater to this program provides a remarkable evening of theater for those who come to see it. Perhaps the best way to summarize the success of this production is in the words of the playwright herself who said “suspense, surprise, inevitable this,” is what play should contain. That is true of all four of these plays.

This production is highly recommended for those who enjoy well written, well-acted plays with unique storytelling.  There are touching emotional moments scattered throughout which keep audiences watching and wondering.

Background

The Teresa Deevy Project began in 2009. Jonathan Banks, Mint Theater Company’s Artistic Director, went on a search to find out about Ireland’s women playwrights. He came across Deevy’s name on a list as someone who had six plays produced at the Abbey, Ireland’s National Theatre between 1930 – 1936.  He was only able to find information about one of them. So he began a search of her work.

Banks’ search led him to the Deevy family home in Waterford, Ireland. Banks says, “There, in two suitcases stuffed under a bed was a treasure trove of typescripts.” Thus the title of program, The Suitcase Under the Bed, was born. This program is a continuation of the Teresa Deevy Project which kicked off in 2010, when the Mint Theater re-introduced the writer to the world with their acclaimed production of the play Wife to James Whelan.  Produced in 2011 was Temporal Powers  and Katie Roche in 2013.

In 2012, Mint published all three of these plays in Teresa Deevy Reclaimed Volume One which has been distributed free of charge to Irish Studies Departments at Colleges and Universities across the U.S. Volume Two of Teresa Deevy Reclaimed is now available, containing nine short plays, collected in one book for the first time ever. Together, these two books will have a significant impact on Deevy scholarship for years to come.

Photo K Nowosad

Both of these books are on sale at performances of The Suitcase Under the Bed and online at the Mint Theater Company website. These would make great gifts to someone who enjoys good plays. Additionally, English teachers would do well to check out this series for potential inclusion in future curriculum.

The Four Plays

There are four short plays that make up The Suitcase Under the Bed. They are “Strange Birth,” “In the Cellar of My Friend,” “Holiday House,” and “King of Spain’s Daughter.”

Cynthia Mace, left, and Ellen Adair in “Strange Birth.” Credit Richard Termine

“Strange Birth” – This is a very sweet tale about love. It all takes place in the entrance hallway of a home where the mail is delivered. A letter arrives and it provides a sweet respite out of the chores for the housekeeper. This play is one of the shortest on the program but it shows three different situations dealing with love and two very happy endings.

“In the Cellar of My Friend”  – A woman thinks the man she loves is preparing to propose marriage to her. She is delightfully happy as the morning begins thinking about what he said the night before. However, a twist that is very surprising occurs and the outcome is a good example of how someone can land on their feet.

Sarah Nicole Deaver and A.J. Shively in “The King of Spain’s Daughter” Credit Richard Termine

“Holiday House” – This short play is funny and introspective and loaded with bits of sarcasm written in. It is a joy to listen to the dialog as this story unfolds. Additionally, the acting antics of the characters adds richness to what takes place.

“King of Spain’s Daughter” – This selection was a successful venture in Dublin, Ireland. It shows the struggle a nontraditional Irish woman experienced during that time period. It is a little rough in parts that deal with the young woman and her father. However, the budding relationship between her and her suitor show potential.

Some beautiful Irish folk music plays as you enter the theater and at intermission to help set the mood. The sets are designed to allow easy changes as the program progresses.

Jonathan Banks directs this production. The cast includes Ellen Adair, Gina Costigan, Sarah Nicole Deaver, Cynthia Mace, Aidan Redmond, Colin Ryan, and A.J. Shively.  The cast does a remarkable job. They play many different characters in different settings throughout the course of the program. Bravo and brava for a job well done!

About the Show

Glad to say this show runs at the Beckett Theatre in Theatre Row, 410 W. 42nd Street in New York City, for the rest of this month. The run extends to Sept. 30, 2017 which still gives time to come to see it.

For more information about the show or tickets, go to the Mint Theater Company website online or purchase at the Theatre Row Box Office.

Run time is approximately 2 hours with one 15 minute intermission.

 

‘Come Light My Cigarette’ Is Difficult to Watch

Michael J Farina and Erikka Walsh in ‘Come Light My Cigarette’

A new musical play, Come Light My Cigarette, is now running through September 2, 2017 at the Theatre at Saint Clement’s in New York City. This is a show that is difficult to watch for several reasons including the subject matter and some problems with the production. It runs about 90 minutes with no intermission. Instead there are two scenes separated by a darkening of the set.

The play was written and directed by Arnold L. Cohen. It features Michael J. Farina (Kevin), Kaye Tuckerman (Danielle), and Erikka Walsh (Vikki). Music Director is Mason Griffin who plays the piano for the show.

This is a dark play dealing with childhood sexual abuse and the latent results into adulthood. Because of the abuse she suffered from her father, Vikki ran away at sixteen. Now she returns to the apartment where her parents lived following her mother’s death. Through song, she laments the abuses she suffered and her entry into the world of prostitution.

First, Kevin, the husband of the woman who died, comes in. He answers a number of telephone calls concerning his wife’s death. The fact that he is an accountant enters the conversation frequently. However, very little emotion is shown but a lot of stereotyping is heard. Vikki reenters the apartment and after a time, confronts Kevin that he killed her mother. He talks about doing it and Vikki shows him she has been wired by the police and his guilt has been recorded. However, there is no sign that the police are ready to move in on him. The scene just ends unresolved and left to the imagination.

The second scene of the play takes place in the same apartment between Vikki and Danielle. Danielle is a producer on Broadway who has taken Vikki as her lover and is making her a Broadway star. It doesn’t seem as though their relationship is a happy one but both appear to get something out of it.

The good points of the show include some fine piano playing and melodies that could be classified as haunting to the soul. The words to the songs, well, not as much. All three of the actors have good singing voices especially the two women.

At times it was difficult to make out some of the words being spoken by Vikki and Danielle. This caused some issues with figuring out where the play was going. Better development of the characters would help this play. Although there was more background given about Vikki, the material just didn’t give the right emotions so that the audience could sympathize with her. There are several times when the dialog gets tedious. Between that and the lack of character development, this is a difficult play to sit through.

Audience Potential

There may be more to this play than came through. However, right now, it would not be one I would recommend for most theater goers. But, those who enjoy plays that are more abstract may want to see this.

To inquire about tickets, either go to the Box Office at the Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 W. 46th Street or visit their website at www.stclementsnyc.org.

Keen Company Announces Plans for Upcoming Year

Keen Company’s plans for their 18th Season were announced today by Artistic Director Jonathan Silverstein. He said, “. . . This year we will present two very different stories about the ties that bind. This fall, Steven Dietz’s landmark play Lonely Planet. Steven’s play is a beautiful testament to the value of friendship during a time of crisis.  In the spring, we will present A.R. Gurney’s Later Life, our third Gurney play in Keen’s history having previously produced The Dining Room in 2008 and The Old Boy in 2013. While we mourn the recent passing of our dear friend and collaborator, we are honored to be able to reunite with his deeply human characters in a story of lost love, told with Pete’s singular theatrical flair.”

Performances for Lonely Planet begin Tuesday, Oct 3rd, and continue through November 18th only.

Performances for Later Life begin Tuesday February 27th, and continue through Saturday April 14th, only.

All performances will be at The Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues) and will be Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 7pm; Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 2pm & 8pm; and Sunday matinees at 3pm.  Tickets will be $65; premium tickets will be $80. (All ticket prices include restoration fees). A subscription package for both shows of the season is only $90 which includes unlimited exchange privileges, invitations to Keen Company readings, and more. Keen patrons 30 or under see both shows for just $20 each with a KEENConnect Subscription at only $40. Consult the Keen Company website, www.keencompany.org for more information or make purchases.

Keen Company creates theater that provokes identification, reflection, and emotional connection. In intimate productions of plays and musicals, they tell wholehearted stories about people striving to do their best. Keen has been honored with eleven Drama Desk Nominations, two Drama Desk Awards, two Drama League Nominations, and two Obie Awards.