Off Broadway Theater Review/Commentary: TEMPORAL POWERS (The Mint Theater Company)

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by Eve Meadows on August 29, 2011

in Theater-New York

A PLAYWRIGHT REBORN

Sometimes you walk into a theater and, for some uncanny reason, begin to anticipate that something very fine is about to happen. And when those expectations are met, it’s like falling in love for the first time — and indeed, you remember why you fell in love with live theatre in the first place.  This was my experience viewing Temporal Powers, a marvelous play performed by a flawless cast.

The Mint Theater Company is committed to bringing forgotten and neglected plays back to life. They excavate buried theatrical treasures, reclaim them for present day audiences, and promote their ongoing theatrical life. How fortunate for us that they discovered playwright Teresa Deevy.

Temporal Powers by Teresa Deevy at The Mint Theatre Company – New York Off Broadway theater review by Eve MeadowsTemporal Powers opens on Michael Donovan (Aidan Redmond) and his wife Min Donovan (Rosie Benton) who, having been evicted from their home, have taken refuge in an abandoned ruin on the outskirts of a town somewhere in Ireland. Min never ceases to abuse and blame her husband for their dire, unrelenting poverty. Michael, a man who has never spared himself from honest work, stands stoically against her assault. When a stash of hidden money is found on top of a crumbling wall, a moral dilemma arises: do they use it to mitigate their suffering, or give it to the priest to find its rightful owner? The struggle around this question tests the couple’s limits, and forces them to discover who they actually are as people. The story is fleshed out by the intervention of relatives and local familiars.

Temporal Powers by Teresa Deevy at The Mint Theatre Company – New York Off Broadway theater review by Eve MeadowsAidan Redmond delivers a brilliant performance as the simple man who works the land, firm in his moral convictions yet full of tenderness toward his wife. Rosie Benton, in the difficult role of an independent woman desperate to rise above her circumstances, beautifully elicits our empathy. Her final moments on stage were masterfully acted. Never heavy-handed, Con Horgan gave a light, even humorous touch to his portrayal of the criminal and outcast of the clan. Eli James and Wrenn Schmidt were delightful as young lovers, and Fiana Tobin, Bairbre Dowling, Paul Carlin and Robertson Carricart were all totally authentic, never falling into caricature as happens in so many Irish plays.

Temporal Powers by Teresa Deevy at The Mint Theatre Company – New York Off Broadway theater review by Eve MeadowsThanks to director Jonathan Bank, nothing about this production is ordinary. The scenic designer (Vicki R. Davis) and the sound designer (Jane Shaw) were as measured and artistic in their approach as everyone else. If there was one flaw, it was in the use of dialect. Words and phrases – sometimes whole sentences – were lost. It is the one element that might prevent this production from being a completely resounding success.

*AUTHOR’S NOTE: I can’t resist sharing with our readers something about the life of this marvelous playwright. Being female and – due to a misfortune that occurred in her twenties – deaf, Teresa Deevy (1894-1963) didn’t fit the typical image of a playwright. In 1930, the Abbey Theatre accepted her play Reapers. Temporal Powers by Teresa Deevy at The Mint Theatre Company – New York Off Broadway theater review by Eve MeadowsIn 1932 she won first prize in the Abbey’s new play contest with Temporal Powers. She moved to Dublin with her sister Dell, who served as an interpreter. Her most popular play was Katie Roche. In the 1940’s, the Abbey mysteriously began turning down her plays, and her career with them was terminated. She supported herself by writing radio plays for the B.B.C., where she would supervise rehearsals by reading actor’s lips. When her sister-companion died, Teresa returned to her village and was often seen riding around on a bicycle in oddly matched attire. Eventually she lost her eyesight as well, and ultimately died in a nursing home.

evemeadows @ stageandcinema.com

photos by Richard Termine

Temporal Powers
scheduled to end on October 10
for tickets, visit http://www.minttheater.org/

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