Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rutherford & Son **

(Please click on the title to see the full review.)
The Mint Theater fills an important niche in New York theatrical life by reviving plays that have either been lost or forgotten. Their latest production is this family drama by Githa Sowerby, a smash hit in London in 1912, when women playwrights were rarely heard from. John Rutherford (Robert Hogan) is head of a large glassworks in the north of England. His tyrannical behavior has, to a greater or lesser extent, ruined the lives of his three adult children -- John Jr. (Eli James), who had run off and married a London shopgirl Mary (Allison McLemore), and has reluctantly returned home upon the birth of their child; Richard (James Patrick Nelson), a well-meaning but ineffectual priest; and Janet (Sara Surrey), an embittered 37-year-old who has begun a secret affair with the trusted plant manager Martin (David Van Pelt). John Sr.'s dour sister Ann (Sandra Shipley) completes this loveless household. Dale Soules has a juicy part as the mother of a plant worker whom Rutherford has fired. When John Jr. claims to have invented a manufacturing process that could save the glassworks and tries to sell it to his father, all the family strains reach the breaking point. The socioeconomic tensions of the period add to the drama. The quality of the acting varies widely: Surrey makes a strong Janet, but James is consistently overwrought and declamatory as John Jr. A word about the accents: I question whether the authenticity gained by trying (with varying degrees of success) to imitate a regional accent, in this case Geordie,  justifies the loss of comprehensibility it entails, particularly when the play is performed outside England. I also wonder why the Mint has seen fit to revive this play for the second time in ten years with the same director (Richard Corley), set designer (Vicki R. Davis), costume designer (Charlotte Palmer-Lane) and three of the same actors. All in all, it makes for an interesting, but longish evening. Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes including two intermissions.


Anonymous said...

Uh, maybe because the last run was around 9/11 and society was otherwise engaged!!!

Anonymous said...

“The tenth anniversary of 9/11 brought back many memories for me, one of which was of this great play, which was scheduled to open on September 12th, 2001. We had a great production and a successful run, but the entire experience was overshadowed by the events of the time. A new production will give us a chance to celebrate the 100th anniversary of this remarkable play and to share it with the many theatergoers who have discovered the Mint in the last ten years,” said Artistic Director Jonathan Bank.

Robert Sholiton said...

That's very plausible, because it opened just a week after 9/11.