NEW YORK—Although A.A. Milne is known predominantly for his lovely series of the “Willie the Pooh” children’s books, he was also a prolific playwright, penning over two dozen plays. One of these, “The Lucky One,” playing at Theatre Row’s Beckett Theatre and presented by the Mint Theater Company, (noted for resurrecting worthy plays of the past) does not disappoint.
Set in the early 1900s in a country house not far from London, an upper class British family exhibits its joys and woes. At the center of things is the relationship between two siblings: older brother Bob Farringdon (Ari Brand) and the younger, Gerald (Robert David Grant).
Under Jesse Marchese’s direction, the company is uniformly fine.
Things have always gone smoothly and efficaciously since infancy for Gerald. He is the lucky one. Everyone adores him; he is always the center of attention, successful in all his endeavors, including his present employment in the Foreign Service.
Bob, on the other hand, is unhappily working in the City, the term for London’s busy financial center, at a small stock broker’s firm. Bob has rather a dour personality; he has never been especially popular or well thought of. In fact, many of his friends and relatives refer to him as “poor old Bob.”
At the present time things are going especially awry for Bob. Apparently his employer has committed a severe financial crime and has flown the coop, left town, perhaps even the country. Bob is left to endure the ramifications, which may even include a prison term.
While that problem is being sorted out and in between the tense scenes between the brothers, domestic scenes unfold with other family members, including the young men’s father Sir James Farringdon (Wynn Harmon), a rather rigid, stern man and their bland mother Lady Farringdon (Deanne Lorette).
Their wise great-aunt Miss Farringdon, known as Tabitha (Cynthia Harris), exhibits a bit more fire, as well as an interest in Bob, and in the world in general.
Although listed in the program as Bob’s “betrothed,” Pamela Carey (Paton Ashbrook) appears to be flexible in her choice of brother. This variability on her part ultimately leads to verbal fisticuffs between Bob and Gerald.
In an interesting plot twist via a vibrant scene between the two men, it turns out that it is Gerald who may be left out in the cold. Also, Bob rages against Gerald for not helping him with his scrape with the law.
Family conflicts are always of interest—we all come from families—and sibling rivalry rates high on the list of such conflicts. “The Lucky One” does not disappoint.
Sets by Vicki R. Davis and costumes by Martha Hally lend a particularly effective note. An elegant pair of opposing staircases gives performers the occasional opportunity to play scenes at varied physical levels, while Hally’s costumes might be termed color coded: Act I features the men in dark gray suits, while the mood warms in Act II with the accent more on beiges.
Under Jesse Marchese’s direction, the company is uniformly fine, with excellent ensemble playing, generally to be expected in Mint productions.
Others in the cast include Andrew Fallaize, Michael Frederic, and Mia Hutchinson-Shaw as Gerald’s friends, and Peggy J. Scott as Gerald’s “old nurse.