by: Sandi Durell
A delightful opening to the season at the Mint Theatre Company, the revival of this 1911 comedy by Allan Monkhouse, throws class and social distinction out the window when the upstairs/downstairs maid, Mary Broome, adorably and cunningly played by Janie Brookshire, turns up pregnant. Through it all, she knows and keeps her place.
Who done it? No, not the butler but the impudent, loquacious, selfish son Leonard Timbrell, played to the “T” by Roderick Hill. He certainly has a way with words – stinging and hurtful at every turn.
If it wasn’t for father Edward Trimbrell, a stalwart Graeme Malcolm threatening to cut off his allowance, Leonard would have been out the door rather than do the right thing by the girl. He insists that Leonard marry Mary. It seems that Leonard’s mother, the loving, understanding Mrs. Trimbrell (Kristin Griffith) isn’t caught up with how it all looks socially as the rest of the family, angered brother Edgar (Rod Brogan), his soon-to-be snobby wife Sheila Ray (Julie Jesneck) and his younger sister Ada (Katie Fabel) who is just too embarrassed by it all. Is there a remote possibility that her affinity for the wronged, less privileged Mary Broome might stem from her own humbler beginnings? Just a thought!
Mary just wants to marry someone and Leonard it will be. He’s far above the rest intellectually, never missing a beat when it comes to the intricacies of language and retorts. It’s all done with challenges, provocation and clever wit and humor. The decadence of societal morals is a reminder that even then, mores and social status were questionable between the working class and upper class; the mighty dollar a device to control.
Brought into the ever comedic confusion are family friends Mr. and Mrs. Pendleton (usually played by Douglas Rees; the evening I attended by Peter Cormican & Jill Tanner) who also play Mary’s mum and dad, and come a-calling after the birth of the child. The new young maid at the Trimbrells is played by Erica Swindell and the nosey landlady, Mrs. Greaves, where Leonard and Mary are living, is played by Patricia Kilgarriff.
The pace is quick, the dialogue smart and kudos go to director Jonathan Bank. There is clever use of the oscillating family portraits by Zhanna Gurvich, that are part of the set design by Roger Hanna; nice period costumes by Martha Hally and good lighting by Nicole Pearce. There’s even some fitting incidental music – – “Will You Love Me in December as you Do in May,” in this four act, one intermission, charming comedy.
“Mary Broome” continues thru October 14th at the Mint Theatre 311 West 43rd Street (Ste. 307) NYC – 866 811-4111