*The Lucky One,* 5/25/17
John, David, Richard, and I saw A. A. Milne's *The Lucky One* at the Mint Theater on 5/25/17. Yes, THAT A. A. Milne, of Winnie the Pooh fame. The four of us see every show at the Mint, they do forgotten plays from the early part of the 20th century, usually by American or British playwrights. Their productions are always first class and the plays are often fascinating.
This was one of their stronger plays. It's about two brothers, Gerald and Bob - - Gerald is "the lucky one," the younger brother, handsome, likable, everything seems to come easy for him. His elder brother Bob is the unlucky one, isn't as well liked as his brother and knows that everyone knows that. The play opened with most of the characters at Bob and Gerald's parents' house, making small talk, having a lovely time. Bob walked in and you could feel the oxygen being sucked out of the room. This is built into the play, but the moment had to be created by director Jesse Marchese and the actors, and they did it wonderfully. They were also aided by costume designer Martha Hally, who put all of the cast in shades of brown, beige, orange, muted green - - except for Bob, who was in grey. It was a subtle touch, but a meaningful one.
Ari Brand and Robert David Grant were fantastic as Bob and Gerald. Brand seemed to have the showier part at first, and he did a brilliant job of communicating Bob's unease with his body language. But Grant came into his own at the end of the play, when Gerald is shown to be more than surface charm. The play had unexpected depth, which is always a nice surprise. Milne used the first act to draw us in and care about the characters, he added drama in the second act, and surpassed our expectations in the third act.
The one weak element of the play was the character of Paula, the woman who forms the third point of the triangle with the two brothers. She doesn't come off particularly well, doesn't seem to have much direction of her own, but that probably is a reflection of the time in which it was written (it was written in 1917 and first produced in 1922).
One other shout-out before I close: the great aunt of the brothers was played by Cynthia Harris, who we'd seen in Charles Busch's *The Tribute Artist* a few years ago. Not a great play, and she had a small part in it, but it was a treat to see her onstage. Richard and I know her from her role as Wallis Simpson in the miniseries *Edward and Mrs. Simpson.* She was very good in this play, she was the turning point in the third act when we started to realize that the story had more in store than we had thought.