By Lillian Hellman; Directed by J.R. Sullivan
Produced by Mint Theater Company
Off Broadway, Play Revival
Runs through 10.6.18
Theatre Row's Beckett Theatre, 410 West 42nd Street
by Linda Buchwald on 8.31.18
Janie Brookshire and Chris Henry Coffey in Days to Come. Photo by Todd Cerveris.
BOTTOM LINE: Though not the best work to come from Lillian Hellman or the Mint, Days to Come is still worth seeing because it's so rarely produced.
The Mint Theater Company is a gem that produces lost or rarely produced plays. These often end up being timely, as with last season's Hindle Wakes. Even when the play isn't a masterpiece, the Mint's productions usually provide insights into a specific playwright or time period. Lillian Hellman's second play, Days to Come, is too melodramatic and uneven to argue that it wasn't given its due the first time around (it closed after seven performances). But if you're a fan of The Little Foxes or The Children's Hour, you might enjoy seeing another of her works.
What is most impressive is the extensive research that Hellman devoted to this play. Days to Come, set in 1936, is about the Rodman family, owners of a brush factory that employs many in the fictional small town of Callom, Ohio. The workers are on strike and attempting to unionize. Hellman spent eight months researching and writing, taking a four-week research trip to small Ohio communities between Cleveland and Cincinnati. As directed by J.R. Sullivan the first act goes quickly, serving as a great setup for an exploration of class differences and what happens when factory owner Andrew Rodman (Larry Bull) betrays his friends by bringing in strikebreakers. There is also potential in the stories of Andrew's childish, unmarried sister Cora (Mary Bacon) and his restless wife Julie (Janie Brookshire). But at the end of the first act, a murder occurs. The resulting action in the second act is more farfetched; Hellman seems to veer away from all that research. Though the drama and scandal ramps up, act two is longer and more of a slog to sit through.
As usual with The Mint, the production values are strong. Harry Feiner's set of the Rodman's house is especially attractive. The ensemble, on the other hand, is not up to the usual Mint standards. Roderick Hill as union organizer Leo Whalen gives the most well-rounded performance. Still, Days to Come is worth seeing, especially since it's unlikely that this play will come around again any time soon.
(Days to Come plays at Theatre Row's Beckett Theatre, 410 West 42nd Street, through October 6, 2018. The running time is 2 hours with an intermission. Performances are Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30; Saturdays at 2 and 7:30; and Sundays at 2. Tickets are $65 and are available at telecharge.com or by calling 212-239-6200. For more information visit minttheater.org.)
Days to Come is by Lillian Hellman. Directed by J.R. Sullivan. Set Design by Harry Feiner. Costume Design by Andrea Varga. Lighting Design by Christian DeAngelis. Sound Design by Jane Shaw. Props Design by Joshua Yocom. Fight Director is Rod Kinter. Dialects and Dramaturgy by Amy Stoller. Stage Manager is Kristi Hess.
The cast is Mary Bacon, Janie Brookshire, Larry Bull, Chris Henry Coffey, Dan Daily, Ted Deasy, Roderick Hill, Betsy Hogg, Kim Martin-Cotten, Geoffrey Allen Murphy, and Evan Zes.