NEW YORK—Following Lillian Hellman’s first major hit on Broadway, “The Children’s Hour,” came the overly heavy, melodramatic offering “Days to Come,” now being presented by the Mint Theater Company, which specializes in resurrecting old plays with merit.
Does this play have merit? Critics and audiences have had strong positive and negative opinions.
Certainly much of its content holds interest for those with political and social concerns: In a fictional Ohio town, the owner of a brush factory, Andrew Rodman (Larry Bull), fears for the company’s future, as its profits have been dangerously dwindling, and his workers are now striking for higher wages.
Against his better judgment, he lets himself be persuaded by his demanding sister Cora (Mary Bacon) and longtime family attorney Henry Ellicott (Ted Deasy) to bring in strikebreakers.
Soon the Rodman living room is peopled with a couple of thug types, Mossie (Geoffrey Allen Murphy) and Joe (Evan Zes), who are supposed to “protect” the family. Unfortunately, these two are so underhanded that a violent act takes place, creating unnecessary melodrama.
Added to the mix is Andrew’s attractive but restless wife, Julie (Janie Brookshire), who has had a past liaison with Henry Ellicott but now seeks another prospect in the person of Leo Whalen (Roderick Hill), a concerned union organizer.
Things get ironed out in the end. Julie even comes to accept her less than romantic relationship with her husband.
Before the play came out, Hellman had stated in an interview that “the strike and social manifestations are just background. … It’s the story of innocent people on both sides who are drawn into conflict and events far beyond their comprehension.”
For me, however, Hellman’s point doesn’t come across, either in the text of the play or in this current performance. J.R. Sullivan’s direction is colorless and bland. Some of that sense may, however, come from the writing. It’s hard to know where to focus one’s attention. Therefore, I can’t comment specifically on any one performance.
As is usual with Mint productions, design values are excellent, including costumes (Andrea Varga), lights (Christian DeAngelis), and sound (Jane Shaw). Harry Feiner’s set is beautiful, but I quibble that perhaps it is too elegant, being that it should reflect Cora’s possibly mediocre taste.
‘Days to Come’
The Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row
410 W. 42nd St.
Running Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes (one intermission)
Tickets: 212-239-6200 or Telecharge.com
Closes: Oct. 6
Diana Barth writes for various theater publications, including New Millennium. She may be contacted at [email protected]