Theater review by Jenna Scherer
The 20th-century Irish canon includes vanishingly few female playwrights. One notable exception is Teresa Deevy, who had a series of plays produced by Dublin’s legendary Abbey Theatre in the 1930s, then fell into obscurity—until Mint Theater Company took up her cause, dusting off scripts that had been stuffed into a pair of suitcases in her family home. Whether working-class drama or boarding-house comedy, the four short works in The Suitcase Under the Bed—a U.S. premiere and three world ones—share a common concern: the way women make the most, or don’t, of their limited roles in Irish society.
Director Jonathan Bank and his company shine in the collection’s dramatic installments, particularly Sarah Nicole Deaver and Cynthia Mace in The King of Spain’s Daughter and In the Cellar of My Friend. But the pace falters in Strange Birth, a sweet but slight rom-com, and Holiday House, a Noël Coward–esque comedy that droops where it should skip. In the Mint’s production, Deevy’s work feels old-fashioned in a way that is both comforting and a little sleepy. But she wrote with gently cutting wit and had a keen ear for dialogue (which is doubly remarkable, since she was deaf for most of her life). The bon mots and quiet revelations in these previously unseen plays prove she’s worthy of rediscovery.
Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row (Off Broadway). By Teresa Deevy. Directed by Jonathan Bank. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 10mins. One intermission. Through Sept 30.
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