In the darkness before dawn, a woman is sleeping and her daughter-in-law is keeping company.
There is no love lost between these two – Mrs. Gascoyne, a widow of a miner, who kept her miner sons near their small English town; and Minnie, a former tutor who, just a few weeks earlier, had had the courage to marry one of them. But at the end of DH Lawrence’s play”Daughter-in-law“Women are gentle enough with each other to be remembered.
Mrs. Gascoyne told Minnie, “A child is a troublesome pleasure to a woman,” but a man is trouble, pure and simple. ”
If that’s not fair in general, it certainly applies to Mrs. Gascoyne’s Luther, who has passed the age of 30 without showing the slightest bit of ambition.
An enduring mystery of the play is why Minnie, a money-hungry with some money of her own, chose to marry him. As a husband and wife choice, he seems aloof even to his aimless brother Joe, who still lives with their mother and, in the early minutes of the play, sits down to a dinner without she cut for him.
In Martin Platt’s diversionary revival for the Mint Theater Company, at New York City’s Central Stage II, men are not the compelling thing about this play. Rather, it is the women of Lawrence, drawn by a broad, conflicted sympathy that acknowledges that it is a sharp-minded person’s attempt to derive satisfaction from an indoor world. suffocating is such an unpleasant thing.
Described with Sandra Shipley’s fine ferocity, Mrs. Gascoyne harbors bitterness about her new wife’s “Luther’s virtues” – a resentment of class and clan, but also of loss of control, because what if her son didn’t need her. anymore? When an acquaintance, Mrs. Purdy (Polly McKie), announces that her daughter is four months pregnant with Luther’s child, Mrs. Gascoyne’s arid heart clench at the humiliation this will bring to her. Minnie.
The gentle Minnie, in a beautifully nuanced performance by Amy Blackman, has had enough trouble already. Her new marriage has been marred by controversy, and Luther (Tom Coiner) is a self-absorbed individual. However, when she said in a fit of rage that she would enjoy “a drunk husband who knocked me over” with her mother’s son, it seemed a bit tense.
Written in the distinctive, dense vernacular of the East Midlands, where Lawrence grew up, the text leaves room for Luther some appealing qualities, but here he is completely raw and uncomplicated. Not even a single sexual spark can make sense of Minnie choosing to be with him – that’s a problem, because we have an obligation to contribute to the success of their relationship.
His brother Joe (Ciaran Bowling) is at least nice to her, mostly; when he’s not, the tenor change is more confusing than anything.
As with many Mint productions, the play’s back story is part of the appeal. Lawrence’s father was a miner; His mother, with whom he was particularly close, was from a slightly higher class. He wrote the screenplay in the years after her death in 1910, around the time he wrote the novel “Sons and Lovers,” which had a similar theme.
Not staged in the life of Lawrence (and directed before by Platt for Mint in 2003), “The Daughter-in-Law” feels like a purge at times — a 20-thing playwright who ends up rebelling against his beloved mother, who demands too much of love. his feelings. When Minnie blamed Mrs. Gascoyne for limping Luther, as if he had no agency, she could sound as if she were conveying the playwright’s wounded outrage. Rebellion, though, is not the same as revenge.
Mrs. Gascoyne told Minnie: “The world is made of men.
But in Lawrence’s world of plays, the women are the stars.
Through March 20 at New York City Center Phase II, Manhattan; minttheater.org. Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/25/theater/the-daughter-in-law-review-sons-and-wives.html Review ‘Daughter-in-law’: Son and Wife