| The Fatal Weakness |
Mint Theater, New York
Viewable online through July 19, free
To watch, go to minttheater.org
by TERRY TEACHOUT
Here’s a happy surprise: The Mint Theater, an off-Broadway troupe that specializes in staging unjustly forgotten 20th-century plays to unfailingly pleasing effect, has been storing up broadcast-ready three-camera archival videos of its productions since 2013. Now it’s making three of the best ones—George Kelly’s “The Fatal Weakness,” Harold Chapin’s “The New Morality” and Hazel Ellis’s “Women Without Men”—available for free in a “Summer Stock Streaming Festival” package. Don’t be thrown if the authors’ names are unfamiliar: The Mint has a near-perfect track record, and all three shows are worth seeing.
If the company itself is new to you, I suggest that you start with “The Fatal Weakness,” which had a short Broadway run in 1946 but was never revived anywhere until the Mint exhumed it in 2014. Best known for “The Show-Off” (1924), which still gets produced from time to time, and best remembered for being Grace Kelly’s uncle, Kelly was one of the most popular playwrights of his day. Few remember him today, yet his best plays remain impressive. “The Fatal Weakness,” far from being a dusty museum piece, is a tough-minded serious comedy about the high price of upper-crust adultery. As always with Kelly, it crackles with target-hitting dialogue (“I’m always a little suspicious of women that tell you ‘as a friend’ that you’re losing your husband”).Kristin Griffith, Cliff Bemis and Cynthia Darlow in ‘The Fatal Weakness’PHOTO: RICHARD TERMINEThis production, lucidly directed by Jesse Marchese, is exemplary of the Mint’s house style. The cast couldn’t be better, with Cynthia Darlow clinching top honors as a compulsive gossip. The stage, as always, is tiny, but that merely adds to the intimacy of the proceedings, and Vicki R. Davis’s sitting-room set is finely and convincingly detailed.
It was news to me that the Mint has been squirreling away archival videos of its productions, much less that they looked this good. Now that the secret’s out, I hope they’ll offer another package of webcasts come fall—or sooner—and that it will include their revivals of Rachel Crothers’s “A Little Journey,” N.C. Hunter’s “A Day by the Sea” and John Van Druten’s “London Wall,” all of which I praised unreservedly when I saw them in the theater. Whatever they offer, you can count on its being worthy: I’ve never seen a bad show at the Mint, or even a middling one.
—Mr. Teachout, the Journal’s drama critic, is the author of “Satchmo at the Waldorf.” Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.Watch Now | Find us on Facebook | Make a Donation
Available for Free On-Demand
Streaming through July 19
And don’t miss out on The New Morality and Women Without Men — also streaming from now until July 19th!