The Mint Theater Company revives N.C. Hunter's forgotten 1953 play, a warm and often humorous depiction of the 'crisis' of middle age. More…
Set in Dorset after World War II, 'A Day by the Sea' examines shattered ambitions and personal isolation. Julian Anson, a once-promising Foreign Service employee, confronts professional disappointment and personal failure while visiting his mother at the English seaside. Jolted into the realization that maybe it’s not too late, he seizes an opportunity to correct his past mistakes and start fresh—but will the results be any different? Directed by Austin Pendleton.
"The Mint has outdone itself with its latest effort…It is that rarest of rarities, a forgotten masterpiece, acted by the best ensemble cast I’ve seen in recent seasons and staged with taut vitality by Pendleton…Ms. Firth, a familiar face to fans of the Mint, and Mr. Elfer, who is new to me, are as good as they could possibly be, though no more so than the eight other members of the cast, all of whom give vividly drawn performances…Everything about this staging is as right as the play itself." Full Review
"The production is well done, especially in the casting of Julian Elfer. Director Austin Pendleton and set designer Charles Morgan give us the feeling that we are looking through a painting of life...The dialogue is so profound that the wisdom in those words echoes today's thoughts and quandaries...This is such a true ensemble and they make this page of life come so alive…With this gem of a play, this fabulous theatre company will offer you a night of theatre that is sure to satisfy." Full Review
"The new production is impeccable, especially with respect to the acting and directing…It is a tribute to the Mint to yet again call our attention to an important writer from the past....Firth is splendid…Other characters are also well-defined and impeccably portrayed…The Mint Theater Company has captured Hunter’s vision with perfection." Full Review
"The play is marvelous. Pendleton and his cast tease out what is most salient and profound in the work...The playwright’s beautifully constructed three acts speed by because of the acting ensemble’s uncanny, in-the-moment presence shepherded by Pendleton’s pinpoint attention to the specificity of character development…'A Day by the Sea' is a play of monumental humanity and searing elegance with a soupçon of well-placed humor brought about by the exquisite performances." Full Review
"Hunter’s similarity to Chekhov is uncanny, and I mean that as a compliment of the highest order… It is the subtleties that reveal profound depth, human fears, and highest hopes…This ten-person ensemble realizes the play to its greatest potential…This play is a lost treasure trove of exquisite writing filled with hilarity, awkward interpersonal moments, and highly intelligent observations about life...A beautifully eloquent text that earns its place in the category of great dramatic literature." Full Review
"'A Day by the Sea' is intelligent and moving. It presents a slice of real life. In a word: terrific...Don’t be deceived by the passive-sounding title; cataclysmic events are the backstory here that Hunter weaves deftly throughout the story…The set design is museum quality. Executed by Charles Morgan, the action is literally framed—like the large oil paintings that are backdrop. Director Austin Pendleton has done a splendid job choreographing a story that moves with comparable artistry." Full Review
"The Mint Theater Company has done it again. Their handsomely staged, splendidly performed production of 'A Day By the Sea' proves that old-fashioned, well-made plays of the 1950s can still entertain and overcome their dated aspects…Austin Pendleton manages to make these entrances and exits go smoothly so that the actors can make the most of their well-developed characters and the witty interchanges Hunter wrote for each. And do they ever!" Full Review
"The actors bring infinite subtleties to their assignments...Firth’s sense of intelligent dolefulness, Tanner’s authority, Godwin’s quick shifts between anger and regret, McKie’s enduring sadness are only part of the ensemble’s overall effectiveness...Surely, much credit for the success of this 'A Day by the Sea' goes to Austin Pendleton...He is attuned to Hunter’s Chekhovian blend of disillusionment, humor and eventual acceptance, and brings it all to vibrant, plangent life." Full Review
"Pendleton has mined this paean to the regrets and follies of middle age for all its worth. The acting is excellent, as are the production values. Praise-worthy all…It is not an easy play by any means, but it is a significant work that will resonate with anyone who has had to shelve an ambition or wrestle with accepting what is rather than what might have been. Mr. Pendleton, the Mint, and the entire company of actors have done a great service in restoring this neglected work." Full Review
"This is a very well made play, and Austin Pendleton, the director, gets the most out of it…Mr. Elfer is terrific, and so is Ms. Firth, whose Frances gradually emerges during this two-intermission play as the most complex character on the stage. Their pas de deux is a beautiful study in conversations never had, or had too late…Miss Mathieson isn’t around much, but what Ms. McKie does with her one big scene, a confessional moment of yearning, is heart-stopping." Full Review
"Directed with precision and grace by Austin Pendleton on Charles Morgan’s lovely sets, the superb cast brings to warm life this world of dimmed elegance…The characters’ outside-world concerns resonate surprisingly in tune with today’s crises of war, terrorist violence, and threats of fascistic resurgence in the West…Among the excellent supporting cast, Polly McKie is especially fine…If N. C. Hunter’s work has been forgotten, it’s wrongly so. 'A Day by the Sea' proves it." Full Review
"Mint Theater Company’s exquisite production of N.C. Hunter’s 'A Day by the Sea' brings to light a play that after an unsuccessful Broadway run more than half a century ago, sank into obscurity; however, unearthed in 2016 has so much more to say about our days...Directed by the masterful Austin Pendleton, 'A Day by the Sea' is essential theatre." Full Review
"'A Day by the Sea' is a full three hours, which is long by modern standards, but it remains interesting throughout. Under Austin Pendleton's sure-footed direction, the play's 10-person ensemble is top-notch…This play is so full of understated yet beautifully expressed, human moments…'A Day by the Sea' is a snapshot of life in 1950s England that is every bit as recognizable in 2016 New York City, and most likely will be for future audiences, whenever and wherever they may be." Full Review
"Such delicate materials need the most careful handling, and it's a good thing the Mint has engaged Austin Pendleton, a director who sifts meaning from the subtlest of details. He has assembled a cast that knows exactly how to dig under their characters' polite surfaces in search of the quiet torments that afflict them…Once again, we are in debt to the Mint for bringing to our attention a playwright we should have known better all along." Full Review
"'A Day by the Sea' is now receiving a jewel of a production by the Mint Theater Company, directed with deft delicacy by Austin Pendleton...It's the second act when the sparks start flying and the drama gets intense...While missed opportunities and dim futures are the major themes of the play, they contrast with Hunter's language and the setting's nostalgic elegance, giving 'A Day by the Sea' a bucolic beauty that tries to defend against the darkness of reality." Full Review
“‘A Day by the Sea’’s first act is entirely made up of exposition and back stories, and Austin Pendleton’s leisurely direction makes the play slower than it needs to be. And then in the second of the play’s three acts all of the characters seem to have a catharsis as to what their lives might be and the temperature heats up. The casting could not be better and the play turns extremely poignant as Hunter’s characters must come face to face with the choices they have made.” Full Review
"Hunter’s quietly passionate drama…Under the taut direction of Austin Pendleton, a uniformly strong ensemble reveals the devastatingly calm results of wrong choices and world war…The play is three acts in three hours, with each act having its own purpose and tone...Pendleton transforms the goings-on into a modern era episode of 'Downton Abbey'...Elfer and Firth are perfectly paired with his Julian casting a pensive Hugh Grant charm and her damaged Frances done with playing games." Full Review
"Manages to be Chekhovian in feel and yet be its own fine drama...Director Austin Pendleton and the top-notch cast certainly knew what to do with this sixty-three-year-old neglected gem...There’s Hunter’s strength: the line that makes your mouth open with awe and reminds you that you’re in the company of a first-class writer...For those who insist that any play over a couple of years old is automatically dated, how about the sequence where Uncle David predicts global warming?" Full Review
"There is some slow going in early scenes, but remember, this is a three-act play. Once the characters’ needs and frustrations are presented, the play, in gifted director Austin Pendleton’s hands, moves along vibrantly...Performances are excellent, with particular subtlety and detail demonstrated by Katie Firth and Julian Elfer...'A Day by the Sea' is a rich and thoughtful production, with a warm and universally meaningful text." Full Review
"Under Austin Pendleton’s steady and gentle direction, we gradually see how effectively Hunter scratches the surface of social interactions to reveal what lies beneath: sadness, anger, and disappointments, as well as hopes and dreams...'A Day by the Sea' initially seems like a play of manners...Although Hunter’s play is not raw like those of Pinter and Osborne, it’s not Disney either—not everyone lives happily ever after. Instead, it shows how much we really just march through life. " Full Review
"Its profligacy with words leads to a run time of nearly three hours...'A Day By the Sea' is a piece that could easily falter and become dull, but it gives director Austin Pendleton the kind of actors’ scene work at which he thrives, and with an interesting, often excellent cast, he manages to maintain audience concentration and engagement for the full run time handily. It’s a fine, bittersweet way to end New York’s theatrical summer." Full Review
"Pendleton helps his gifted cast develop expressive grace notes, and some prosaically written scenes conjure surprising strength...Mental activity helps one through the more arid sections of 'A Day by the Sea,' of which there are several...If, like me, you relish the languid rhythms and gentle forward motion of the well-made mid-century play, you’ll want to catch 'A Day by the Sea.' But this one could have been a little more well-made." Full Review
"Apart from the easily parodied genteel surface of Hunter’s work, one is struck by its derivativeness. At moments, it’s as if Hunter wrote on tracing paper laid over 'Uncle Vanya.' Of course, there are worse talents to ape, and Hunter is a sensitive observer of English neuroses and resilience. The fine cast navigates the quippy, stiff-upper-lipness with vibrant grace…A melancholy study of middle-age malaise leavened by flashes of wit and humor, good for 'Downton Abbey' addicts." Full Review
"The best one can say of the revival (and of the play itself, for that matter), whose most prominent name is that of director Austin Pendleton, is that it’s dully respectable. The staging is uninspired, the casting flawed, and the acting uneven; moreover, the slow-paced, relatively plotless play, although not entirely lifeless nor without moments of dry humor, suffers too many longueurs. And Hunter’s writing in act one offers a lesson in how not to introduce exposition." Full Review
"Can one really start again? And would the outcome result any differently? It’s these questions that director Pendleton endeavors to answer as he wisely moves his talented cast from garden to beachside picnic. Life’s puzzle of growing older juxtaposed with youth, and the nature of human temperaments and frailties become more focused as the three-act blossoms in an all too lengthy and tedious 2 hours 55 minutes! But it does have its many moments of humor and heartfelt sincerity." Full Review
See it if Beautiful language, wonderful characters, regrets, fears and hopes ... an insightful, melancholy contemplation of life.
Don't see it if You prefer more action and intensity.
See it if you enjoy well-written observations on life, superbly acted by wonderfully talented actors
Don't see it if you're impatient -- this play's ruminations on mid-life crisis and aging are in no hurry, but the two-intermission pace is part of the charm
See it if You're an Anglophile, you're impressed with wit, language, a consummate ensemble, a gracious contemplation of stylishly facing aging.
Don't see it if You're a hipster with ADHD who needs bells and whistles. This revival is a classy throwback to the best of Gielgud's era.
See it if You'd enjoy a terrifically acted, directed & produced English gem from the '50s. A play w/ wry humour, observations about humanity, & heart.
Don't see it if You're looking for a play with a lot of action or something experimental. This is a straight forward play in 3 acts (or something short!).
See it if You like thoughtful, profound material acted with skill, tenderness, and understanding.
Don't see it if You want high voltage theatrics. This is carefully paced; the connection the actors have with the text and each other is the joy here.
See it if you'd like to see a rarely performed older show with a traditional plot structure, strong character development and excellent acting,
Don't see it if You dislike revivals and prefer more modern, edgy drama with more action,
See it if You like family dramas with multi-generational problems reaching from the past to the present to the future.
Don't see it if You have no patience for leisurely expositions of past events.
See it if You enjoy an old fashion play with great dialogue, great performances and great staging.It's like watching PBS live.
Don't see it if You only enjoy 80 minute, intermissionless shows about dysfunctional families
See it if you would enjoy a well-written narrative about coming to terms with life's limitations and learning to savor the ordinary
Don't see it if you only wish to see "cutting edge" innovative theater: this is well done, satisfyingly slow classic character development
See it if Beautiful revival of a play by the incredible Mint theatre. Excellent acting and staged beautifully. An absorbing drama.
Don't see it if If you do not like classical dramas. It's important to have a leisure look at this absorbing play
See it if Like interesting people portrayed as if character = destiny. Love language (British) and well made play.total immersion in time and place
Don't see it if You are impatient, action oriented, or don't like plays which are somewhat "talky" and somewhat "philosophical." Otherwise, see it!
See it if Can do three act play inwhich the first act is a little slow but it builds to a fantastic third act
Don't see it if You can't wait for the play to heat up, some left to early
See it if You appreciate well-written, unknown older plays well-presented. Good for Chekhov and Richard Nelson fans--conversational but deep.
Don't see it if It's a period piece, all talk. 3 hours goes fast but it's a subtle, funny play, not a barn burner. The audience very engaged when we saw it
See it if you love good theater as in plays not musicals. very relatable situations tho it is a play that takes place in 1953
Don't see it if if you aren't interested in a 3 hour solid drama about lots of relationships that feels very real
See it if you have three hours to become immersed in this slowly-paced but well-acted Modern play; can relate to mid-life crises and growing older.
Don't see it if you need intense action, elaborate staging, famous actors, musical numbers, or a quick turn at the theatre. This play requires commitment.
See it if Enjoy classic well made play format (3 acts), a Chekhovian flavored melodrama, moving performances
Don't see it if Have little patience for the well crafted play which takes its time (3hrs) to resolution, the "Masterpiece Theatre" genre
See it if you want a simple story with witty, quirky characters who contemplate their missed chances in life & their futures; wonderful performances
Don't see it if you want a complex plot or a fast-moving story. With 3 acts & 2 intermissions some may find it too long. Also if you don't like Chekhov.
See it if Lovely show from a time when storytelling was subtle and took its time. If you are looking to unplug from contemporary life, see this.
Don't see it if This will not dazzle you as it slowly reveals its relationships and plot. But, for a theatre purist, it is a delight.
See it if want to see some very good acting and good character development sprinkled throughout with a nice sense of humor & set in a different era.
Don't see it if you can't sit through a three hour play that is engaging but takes its time to build the characters - can be a bit slow.
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies