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The Mint “Goes Forth” with Phillip
Philip Goes Forth
Directed by Jerry Ruiz
Mint Theater Company
311 West 43 Street, 3rd Floor
From Aug. 24, 2013
Tuesday–Thursday 7pm | Friday & Saturday 8pm, Saturday & Sunday 2pm, Special Wednesday 2pm Matinees: Oct. 2, Oct. 9, No performance: Tuesday Oct. 1
Tickets: $55, 866-811-4111 or www.minttheater.org
Closes Oct. 27, 2013
George Kelly wrote ten full-length plays, always realistic and often criticizing narcissism and dilettantism. Although he wrote most of his plays between World War I and II, he was not interested in the experiments of modernistic writers. This may be one of the reasons he has been largely forgotten today, even though Craig’s Wife, written in 1935, won the Pulitzer Prize.
Philip Goes Forth, now onstage at the Mint, takes a skeptical view of unrealistic ambition and romantic goals. The central character, Philip Eldridge (Bernardo Cubría), is the son of a small-town businessman (Cliff Bemis). Philip’s father wants him to join the family firm, but Philip has different plans. Encouraged by his girlfriend, Cynthia (Natalie Kuhn), Philip “goes forth” to New York City, where he believes he will fulfill his dream of becoming a successful playwright.
In New York, Philip meets several like-minded people: a pianist (Brian Keith MacDonald), a poet (Rachel Moulton) and a mentor with some undefined artistic ambitions (Teddy Bergman). All are determined; none is successful. In fact, it is only Mrs. Ferris, his landlady (Kathryn Kates), a former actress who understands the vicissitudes of life and a life in theater, who gently sets him straight.
As usual, the Mint has given an aged play needing life support the most loving of care. And guess what? Thanks to this loving care and Jerry Ruiz’s direction, the play does breathe again!
Stephen C. Kemp’s two gorgeous sets and Carisa Kelly’s costumes take us back to middle-class 1930s and the excellent acting keeps us there. Cubria makes Philip foolish but charming. Christine Toy Johnson as Mrs. Randolph, a spirited widow, delivers the play’s funniest lines with great aplomb. And Kathryn Kates, who stepped in only two weeks before the show’s opening, is a wise and somewhat wounded raisonneur.
At a time when Glee, a musical comedy-drama television series about a bunch of stagestruck highschoolers, is in its fifth season and A Chorus Line has iconic status, it’s nice to see a production that takes a less buoyant view of the future of would-be thespians.
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