‘The Daughter-in-Law’ makes its mark
Martin Platt directs a company that includes Amy Blackman (Broadway: Angels in America – National Theatre of Great Britain; Caroline, or Change –The Abbey Theater of Dublin); Ciarán Bowling (West End: Les Misérables; The Burial at Thebes – Irish Rep; A Midsummer Night’s Dream – TFANA); Seth Andrew Bridges (Off-Broadway debut!); Tom Coiner (God Said This – Primary Stages); Katie Fanning (Off-Broadway debut!); Polly McKie (Mint Theater: A Day by the Sea; The Streets of New York, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, The Home Place – Irish Rep); Sandra Shipley (Mint Theater: Hindle Wakes, Rutherford & Son; Broadway: Present Laughter, The Importance of Being Earnest, After Miss Julie, Blithe Spirit, Equus, Pygmalion, Vincent in Brixton, Arms and the Man, Indiscretions); and Tina Stafford (The Importance of Being Earnest – NY Classical Theatre; Ionescopade – York Theatre).
The Daughter-in-Law remains one of the Mint’s most popular and successful productions. “Proof that theater history is worth excavating,” The New York Timesdeclared when naming it among the Best Productions of the Year. The original six-week run was extended to four months and received two Drama Desk nominations including Outstanding Revival.
The Daughter-in-Law was neither produced nor published in Lawrence’s lifetime. It first appeared in print in 1965 when a complete edition of Lawrence’s plays was published for the first time. Three years later The Royal Court presented the world premiere of The Daughter-in-Law. Michael Billington of The Guardian called the play “One of the great British dramas of the 20th century.” Other British productions since have provided fresh occasions to celebrate Lawrence’s achievement as a playwright, but in the US, only Mint Theater Company has staged The Daughter-in-Law. Lawrence’s challenging idiomatic text and difficult Nottinghamshire dialect may have intimidated other producers.
Written in 1913 and set against the background of the impending national coal strike of 1912, The Daughter-in-Law tells the story of Luther Gascoyne, a young miner, and his newly wed wife Minnie, a former governess. The tensions and misunderstandings they suffer due to their different backgrounds and expectations are exacerbated by the powerful influence of Luther’s mother and brought to open conflict when it is discovered that Luther, before his marriage, made another woman pregnant. As the labor unrest comes to a boil, so does the simmering conflict between Luther and Minnie.
Reviewing the Mint’s 2003 production for The New York Times, Bruce Weber wrote “The Daughter-in-Law, a play by D. H. Lawrence, written probably in 1913, about the time he was working on Sons and Lovers, is interesting in so many ways that it’s hard to know where to begin. Lawrence’s tale of a marriage strained by class conflict is so well-constructed, so brutally intimate and so psychologically shrewd that it has the prescience and dimensions of an important modernist work… There is not an ounce of coyness in Lawrence’s script, and each character has a fully grounded and virtually unshakable sense of his or her own just deserts, and as these expectations bang into one another again and again, the pain that is created is both viscerally sharp and chronically throbbing. Rarely do you see lives so persuasively scraped raw onstage. The Daughter-in-Law is never less than fascinating. And in its portrayal of characters who, each painfully circumscribed by his or her own psychological qualities, beat on one another with merciless repetition and mounting frustration, it is reminiscent of no other playwright so much as O’Neill.”
“Of all the countless off-Broadway troupes with which the side streets of Manhattan are dotted, none has a more distinctive mission—or a higher artistic batting average—than the Mint Theater Company, which ‘finds and produces worthwhile plays from the past that have been lost or forgotten.’ If that sounds dull to you, don’t be fooled: I’ve never seen a production there that was a sliver less than superb. Rachel Crothers’s Susan and God, John Galsworthy’s The Skin Game, Harley Granville-Barker’s The Madras House, N.C. Hunter’sA Day by the Sea, Dawn Powell’s Walking Down Broadway, Jules Romains’s Doctor Knock, John Van Druten’s London Wall: All these fine plays and others just as good have been exhumed by the Mint to memorable effect in the 13 years that I’ve been reviewing the company, a tribute to the uncanny taste and unfailing resourcefulness of Jonathan Bank, the artistic director,” said Terry Teachout in the Wall Street Journal. Mint was awarded an OBIE Award for “combining the excitement of discovery with the richness of tradition” and a special Drama Desk Award for “unearthing, presenting and preserving forgotten plays of merit.”
Tickets for The Daughter-in-Law, which start at $35, are on sale. You may purchase tickets online at NYCityCenter.org, by calling 212/581-1212, or in person at the New York City Center box office located at 131 West 55th Street (between 6th & 7th Avenues). There is a $2.50 facility fee on all tickets. Phone, mail, fax and internet orders incur a service charge.
City Center is a fully vaccinated venue. Approved masks must be worn by audience members, staff, and crew at all times while inside NY City Center. Upon arrival at the theater, vaccination proof must be presented along with your ticket. Please bring your government-issued photo ID and register in advance for one of the following forms of vaccination proof:
NYC COVID SAFE App for Android or iOS, NY State’s Excelsior Pass, Health Pass by CLEAR, Your physical CDC-issued vaccination card