Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Glass Cage

Photo/Richard Termine

Revivals are tricky business: do them badly, and no matter how relevant the message, it still seems like a waste of time. Thankfully, The Mint's latest production, The Glass Cage is no bitter pill: instead, this revival of J. B. Priestley's 1956 play about vengeful family members executing an odd turn of class warfare in 1900s' Canada, is a sweet sell. Jean, Angus, and Douglas are estranged members of the wealthy McBane family, and they've been called back by the religious patriarch, David (a fine Gerry Bamman), to settle an inheritance issue left behind by their reckless father. However, they're not as dumb or shy--in fact, argues Douglas (understudy Aaron Krohn), they're more real than the whole family, from womanizing Malcom (Jack Wetherall) to the scowling prude, Mildred (Robin Moseley). This puts Elspie and John (Sandra Struthers-Clerc and Chad Hoeppner), young adults themselves, in the middle of two worlds--republican and libertarian--and they are seduced by both sides. To Priestley's credit, both sides have merits and flaws, and director Lou Jacobs exposes some of the parallels by showing the different uses for a religious altar, and--through the vivacious energies of Jean and Angus (Jeanine Serralles and Saxon Palmer, both at the top of their game as moral rascals)--revealing the similarities that we all share, deep down, in our heart. The only blemish is Roger Hanna's oblique set, a steampunk collection of pipes that lead nowhere and add nothing: the cage is a metaphor, not a gilded maze.

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