Recommended Theatre: YOURS UNFAITHFULLY (Jermyn Street Theatre in London)

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by Nia Liat on May 17, 2023

in Theater-International


In 2017, Mint Theater Company presented the World Premiere of Miles Malleson’s Yours Unfaithfully, directed by Mint Artistic Director Jonathan Bank. This “un-romantic comedy” was published but never produced. Mint now joins forces with the Jermyn Street Theatre in London to bring the play home for its UK Premiere, 90 years after it was first published. Bank continues as director of a London-based cast in a new production.

Yours Unfaithfully is an insightful, intelligent and exceptionally intimate peek behind the closed doors of an open marriage. Stephen and Anne, blissfully happy for eight years, are committed to living up to their ideals. When Stephen, a writer who isn’t writing, begins to sink into a funk of unproductive moodiness, Anne encourages him to seek out a fresh spark. Can their marriage survive uncompromising generosity, sacrifice and love?

The cast features Laura Doddington (as Anne Meredith), Guy Lewis (as Stephen Meredith), Dominic Marsh (as Alan Kirby), Keisha Atwell  (as Diana Streatfield), and Tony Timberlake (as Reverend Gordon Meredith).

Yours Unfaithfully
by Miles Malleson; directed by Jonathan Bank
Jermyn Street Theater, 16b Jermyn Street in London
June 1 — July 1
Mon – Sat at 7:30; Tues & Sat matinee at 3:30
for tickets, visit Jermyn Street Theatre
for more info, visit Mint Theater

“Having worked in New York City for close on a decade, I know how audiences there look to Jonathan Bank and the Mint Theater Company to introduce them to the plays that should never have been forgotten. Yours Unfaithfully is just such a play. We can’t wait to welcome Jonathan to London and to give our audiences their much overdue opportunity to catch this witty, relevant play about modern love in the 1930s,” said  Jermyn Street Theatre Artistic Director Stella Powell-Jones.

“I admit to being surprised (and delighted) that I will get to introduce Miles Malleson the playwright to London theatergoers with the UK Premiere of Yours Unfaithfully,” said Bank. “I’m grateful to Executive Director David Doyle and the folks at Jermyn Street Theater, who share Mint’s interest in rediscovering neglected plays, for partnering with us to make this production happen. I’m especially proud of ‘discovering’ the plays of Malleson 20 years ago, not just this one, but Conflict, which was one of Mint’s best-reviewed and -attended productions ever. Malleson had a great gift for conveying intimacy in dialogue and complexity in feeling and I’m excited to work on this play again with an English cast, for an English audience. I expect to learn valuable lessons.”

Miles Malleson’s most successful play was The Fanatics, which played in both London and New York in 1927. The Fanatics was also an outspoken play on the subject of sex, in this case, before  marriage. Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times wrote, “The Fanatics of the title are those who have the courage to live their lives as they think proper. Rightly or wrongly, Mr. Malleson offers the rebellious young people as the products of the war. Whatever the reason may be for their intellectual ruthlessness, you must respect their courage and sincerity.”

William Miles Malleson (1888-1969) is remembered, if at all, as a character actor on stage and screen “who had a line in nitwits in which he was unrivaled,” such as the Sultan in The Thief of Bagdad (which he also wrote), the hangman in Kind Hearts and Coronets (with Sir Alec Guinness, 1949) and Rev. Chasuble in The Importance of Being Earnest (with Edith Evans, 1952). But as the author of numerous plays charged with the passion of reform, he never enjoyed the kind of popular success he had as an actor. The Stage and Television Today published a warm testimonial at his death in 1969: “Malleson was an actor of distinction, an artist of imagination and depth, whose best characterizations, especially in Shakespeare, were among the treasures of our theatre for many years…He excelled in comedy that came from guileless but not silly men. His nit-wits had souls as well as stupidities. What might have been merely grotesque was never so, it was lit by human feeling.  His work in the theatre spanned nearly sixty years, from the time he made his debut at Liverpool Playhouse under Basil Dean in 1911, in Justice. He worked with Granville Barker and J.B. Fagan, with Playfair, Gielgud and Olivier, at the Old Vic in London and Bristol; in the West End and in the provinces. His acting, within its range, was unrivaled for effect, interest and significance, and he contributed valuable work as a translator of Moliere, as a writer, notably with The Fanatics and Six Men of Dorset—with H. Brooks—and as an influence for all that was intended to be of value to the theatre, irrespective of profit or fame.”

Jermyn Street Theatre is the West End’s smallest producing theatre. The Stage’s Fringe Theatre of the Year 2021, it is led by Artistic Director Stella Powell-Jones, co-Founder and Executive Director Penny Horner, and Executive Producer David Doyle. The theatre won a 2022 Critics’ Circle Award for its lockdown theatre. The programme includes outstanding new plays, rare revivals, new versions of European classics, and high-quality musicals, alongside one-off musical and literary events. It collaborates with theatres across the world, and its productions have transferred across the UK, Broadway, and beyond.

“Thank heaven for the unwavering commitment of Jonathan Bank, the theatrical archaeologist whose Mint Theater Company unearths long-forgotten plays and imbues them with new life,” wrote The New York TimesMint Theater Company finds and produces worthwhile plays from the past that have been lost or forgotten. Mint creates new life for these plays and their authors through research, dramaturgy, production, readings, and a variety of enrichment programs and extends that life by preserving its work — through publication, their online archives, and with broadcast quality video recordings. “Of all the countless Off-Broadway troupes with which the side streets of Manhattan are dotted, none has a more distinctive mission—or a higher artistic batting average—than the Mint Theater Company… I’ve never seen a production there that was a sliver less than superb. Rachel Crothers’s Susan and God, John Galsworthy’s The Skin Game, Harley Granville-Barker’s The Madras House, N.C. Hunter’s A Day by the Sea, Dawn Powell’s Walking Down Broadway, Jules Romains’s Doctor Knock, John Van Druten’s London Wall: All these fine plays and others just as good have been exhumed by the Mint to memorable effect in the 13 years that I’ve been reviewing the company, a tribute to the uncanny taste and unfailing resourcefulness of Jonathan Bank, the artistic director,” said Terry Teachout in the Wall Street Journal. Mint was awarded an OBIE Award for “combining the excitement of discovery with the richness of tradition” and a special Drama Desk Award for “unearthing, presenting and preserving forgotten plays of merit.”

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