Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Price of Thomas Scott

The invaluable Mint Theater Company has found another underappreciated playwright from early in the last century. Elizabeth Baker grew up in an extremely religious household and didn't see her first play until she was 30--theatre was considered immoral in her home.

Donald Corren and Tracy Sallows
Photo: Todd Cerveris
In Baker's The Price of Thomas Scott, Thomas Scott, very much the head of his household, is deeply religious and deeply conservative, keeping a tight leash on his children. No theatre, no dancing, no fancy clothing. The family has a millinery shop that is barely getting by. The son would like to go to a good school; the daughter would love to go to Paris to learn more about hats; and the wife would love to retire. An almost miraculous solution to their situation appears when a company offers a fortune to buy their home and shop. Only one problem: that company will turn the space into a dance hall.

The Price of Thomas Scott is a thin play in some ways; it would have been an excellent short piece. Even at only 90 minutes, it is repetitive and slow. Nevertheless, it is also quite involving. I found myself rooting against my own beliefs because Baker does such an excellent job at showing the roots and honor of other people's beliefs.

As always, the Mint production is top-notch and well-directed, although there are two dance numbers that are just wrong. They feel like winks at the audience: "We're not as backward as these characters," director Jonathan Bank seems to be saying.

Also as always, the production values are wonderful and evocative. The set is by Vicki R. Davis; the costumes by Hunter Kaczorowski; the lighting by Christian DeAngelis; and the sound and musical arrangements by Jane Shaw.

For a third "as always," the cast ranges from solid to outstanding. They are Donald Corren, Andrew Fallaize, Emma Geer, Josh Goulding, Mitchell Greenberg, Nick LaMedica, Jay Russell, Tracy Sallows, Mark Kenneth Smaltz, Ayana Workman, and Arielle Yoder.

The Mint plans to produce two more full productions of Baker's plays, as well as readings of some of her one acts. I'm looking forward to all of them!

Wendy Caster
(5th row; press ticket)
Show-Score: 88

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