Marriage can be a difficult union at best. But when poverty invades the worn relationship between Min Donovan (a never-give-in Rosie Benton) and her upright, stoic husband Michael (Aidan Redmond), evicted from their home and now living in an old ruin in the Irish countryside, the crumbling interior of their new surroundings (captured precisely by scenic designer Vicki R. Davis, enhanced by Jeff Nellis’ lighting design) are analogous to what is happening in their marriage.
Teresa Deevy, playwright, deaf since the age of 20, won first prize for “Temporal Powers” at the Abbey Theatre’s play competition in 1932, when it was first produced.
It was considered thought provoking then and surely lives up to that expectation when the couple in question are faced with keeping stolen money Michael finds hidden in a crevice of the ruin.
Min is tired of being poor, she’s angry and harsh, placing blame as she nags at Michael trying to persuade him to keep the loot instead of taking it to Father O’Brien for counsel on what should be done. “Would you ask I’d do wrong? . . . So you’re asking we rob? says Michael, to which she replies “Wrong! What is wronger I ask you than crawling through life with tattered rags on your back? . . . And what did you ever do but rob? Maybe you didn’t take money wasn’t yours — but worse. Robbing me you are since you laid eyes on me!” Make no mistake, Min’s distaste for religion is equal to that of her hatred for poverty.
As it turns out, the money is stolen by the recently released ex-con Ned (the unconscionable Con Horgan) Michael’s brother-in-law and husband to Mick’s sister Maggie (an understated Bairbre Dowling). The contradictory relationship between Mick and Min is far-reaching as various friends and neighbors keep dropping in adding to the intrigue and humor of the situation. There’s young Moses Barron (the tempered Eli James) who attempts to dissuade sweet Lizzie (Wrenn Schmidt) who loves him (as he does her). Moses’ busy-body mother Daisy (Fiana Toibin) doesn’t really seem to favor anybody, especially Moses’ sweetheart Lizzie.
Father O’Brien (a sweet Robertson Carricart) is reminiscent of movie great Barry Fitzgerald, the Priest in Going My Way. The cast is rounded out by Jim Slattery (Paul Carlin), as the know-it-all town politico.
High level talent prevails in this 3 Act, 2 intermissions, longer than necessary play. One of the problems is the difficulty grasping the Irish-English dialect of Gaelic origins, composed of unfamiliar sentence structures and poetic idioms, but considered a lyrical language; an interesting divergence for a playwright who was deaf.
However, the production is another one of the Mint Theater gems deftly directed by Jonathan Bank and runs thru September 25th. www.minttheater.org 212 315-0231
Interestingly, if you want to know just how much of a power-pull money has, well, looks like Min will get some of her wishes granted as the cast of Temporal Powers will visit the NASDAQ Market Site in New York City’s Times Square to celebration of its August 29 opening. In honor of the occasion, cast member Rosie Benton, along with the rest of the cast, will ring the Closing Bell on August 31st!