Review: Temporal Powers

The Mint unearths a lost treasure from the Irish drama.

  • Photograph: Richard Termine

    Temporal Powers at the Mint Theater Company

    Temporal Powers at the Mint Theater Company

  • Photograph: Richard Termine

    Temporal Powers at the Mint Theater Company

    Temporal Powers at the Mint Theater Company

  • Photograph: Richard Termine

    Temporal Powers at the Mint Theater Company

    Temporal Powers at the Mint Theater Company

  • Photograph: Richard Termine

    Temporal Powers at the Mint Theater Company

    Temporal Powers at the Mint Theater Company

Photograph: Richard Termine

Temporal Powers at the Mint Theater Company

Temporal Powers at the Mint Theater Company

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Teresa Deevy's penchant for Chekhov's moral dilemmas and Shaw's social ethos pervades Temporal Powers, the second play by the early-20th-century Irish dramatist that the Mint Theater Company has excavated from the historical vaults (the first, Wife to James Whelan, was presented last summer). Originally performed at Dublin's Abbey Theatre in 1932, Temporal Powers turns the domestic struggles of a recently evicted peasant couple into a tense, sobering indictment of church and class.

Deevy's women are her engine. Not content to let poverty be a virtue, Min Donovan (Rosie Benton) schemes to get the money her taciturn, too proud husband, Michael (Aidan Redmond), finds in the ruins of the home where they seek shelter, while he insists on handing it over to the local priest. Meanwhile, steadfast but nowhere near as sneaky Lizzie Brennan (Wrenn Schmidt, equal parts sweetness and tang) takes action to draw her beloved, Moses Barron (Eli James), away from his overbearing mother (Fiana Toibin), every bit as determined to keep him at home.

But the play is more complex than a mere morality tale, and Deevy's characters defy pigeonholing. Redmond imbues Michael with a solemn piety but a brutishness as well. Benton's Min may be kin to Jezebel, but—trapped between her husband's rigidity and the Catholic Church's ineffectiveness—can she be blamed for grasping at what's within reach? That their suffering resonates with more force than the ties that have held them together mitigates the harshness of their final scene. And if Jonathan Bank's penetrating staging now and then bogs down in the peat, his uniformly strong supporting cast has plenty of occasion to shine. So does Deevy, whose literary prowess appears everlasting.

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Mint Theater Company. By Teresa Deevy. Dir. Jonathan Bank. With ensemble cast. 2hrs 30mins. Two intermissions. See complete event information