The Suitcase Under the Bed (Mint Theater Company)

Jonathan Bank, the Artistic Director of The Mint Theater, specializes in finding and producing neglected or forgotten plays.  Teresa Deevy was “discovered” while researching female Irish playwrights.  Her plays were produced in the 1930s and then forgotten.  Since she had been previously published, the search eventually took him to the two-century old family home in Waterford, Ireland.  Stuffed under a bed were two suitcases filled with a treasure trove of typescripts.  Working with Teresa’s grand-niece, the Deevy project was born.

From 2010 through 2013, the Mint produced three of her plays:  Wife to James Whelan, Temporal Powers and Katie Roche (currently running in Dublin’s Abbey Theater).  All three plays were excellent.  What is remarkable about her work is the feminist point of view at the time they were written.  The Suitcase Under the Bed is a collection of four of her short plays, two of which have never been produced or published.  One of those, Holiday House, was so good I wanted a whole play with these characters.  Two brothers going to the family vacation home for the month of August with their wives, one of which had been previously engaged to the other brother.  Tossed into the mix is a nervous, judgmental sister and their Mater.

Two of the other three shorts were impressive as well, notably the final piece, “The King of Spain’s Daughter.”  Aidan Redmond plays Peter Kinsella, a labourer and the father of Annie (Sarah Nicole Deaver), a “wild” child with boys on her mind.  Mr. Redmond appeared in all four plays and inhabited a completely different character in each one.  Surrounded by a very talented cast, he was a standout.  (A side benefit from attending this production is being able to watch actors change roles.)  One of the plays, “In the Cellar of my Friend” did not capture me as much as the others did.

In addition to selecting the shorts to be played, Jonathan Bank directed The Suitcase Under the Bed.  As is often the case with the Mint Theater, the acting was exceptionally good.  The production values at the Mint are usually very high for an off-Broadway company.  Here, the costumes by Andrea Varga were right on target.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to encounter any of Teresa Deevy’s work, this is a nice introduction.

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