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A Day by the Sea

Members say: Great acting, Intelligent, Slow, Absorbing, Entertaining
80
Critics
78
31 reviews
Members
80
121 reviews
 

The Mint Theater Company revives N.C. Hunter's forgotten 1953 play, a warm and often humorous depiction of the 'crisis' of middle age.

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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.

 

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Reviews (152)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
78
Avg Score

90
The New York Times

"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

85
BroadwayWorld

"'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

40
Theatermania

"While the feelings presented in this play are universal, they're strained by the three-act structure, with too little action to justify its length…While 'A Day by the Sea' is surprisingly relevant (loneliness never goes out of style), Pendleton's production, no matter how attractive it is, cannot overcome the tediousness of the script…Despite Pendleton managing to guide a few of the cast members to performances of genuine ache, most of the company is too actorly to be truly believable." Full Review

65
Time Out New York

"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

85
Lighting & Sound America

"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

60
Theatre's Leiter Side

"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

100
The Wall Street Journal

"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

90
The Huffington Post

"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

85
Front Row Center

"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

95
Times Square Chronicles

"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

90
CurtainUp

"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

85
TheaterScene.net

“‘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

90
Upstage-Downstage

"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

45
Woman Around Town

"The play feels slow…It’s impossible to tell how much of this is attributable to the script and how much to the production, which is not, in my opinion, up to high Mint Theater standards…Pendleton’s direction is radically uneven. There are wonderful small gestures…On the other hand, there are actors who seem to disappear when not speaking, intermittent lack of focus during dialogue, and cast members so theatrically flamboyant embodiment is left in the dust of bravado." Full Review

95
Wolf Entertainment Guide

"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

55
Broadway & Me

"Has charmed most of the critics. Although not me. I'll grant that Hunter makes some gimlet-eyed observations about the choices people make in their lives and the courage necessary to take responsibility for those choices. And his play doesn't go to predictable places. But this production seems to me to just skim the surface of Hunter's melancholic truths. The cast is wildly uneven...The production also struck me as chintzy." Full Review

95
Theatre is Easy

"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

60
Theater Pizzazz

"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

90
Stage Buddy

"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

95
BlogCritics.org

"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

90
BlogCritics.org

"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

30
Journal Inquirer

"‘A Day by the Sea’ has us wondering how this play ever got produced in the first place, let alone beat out others more deserving of a revival…This production features good actors, but the slim plot, sketchy character development, and exposition-laden dialogue don’t give them much to work with…Morfogen scores the most laughs...He has lines like, 'Does something happen soon? It’s pretty dull, this,' which brought laughs of appreciation from the audience thinking the same thing." Full Review

60
Village Voice

"Hunter's play isn't precisely boring. Or, let's say, its boringness isn't a simple matter: Hunter knows that his people are dull and his dramatic action sluggish...Chekhov, the classic maker of plays in which 'nothing happens,' is often cited as Hunter's model...We have to piece Chekhov's facts together for ourselves; Hunter's people, in contrast, explain themselves all too fully...Pendleton's production does its best to find vitality inside the script's eerie, stop-and-start moods." Full Review

70
NY Theatre Guide

"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

85
BroadwaySelect

"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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
80
Avg Score

81
Funny, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Entertaining

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.

80
Great acting, Intelligent, Dated, Great staging

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.

Also The acting was quite good - special kudos to Julian Elfer. I liked the... Read more Read less

91
Delightful, Great acting, Refreshing, Great writing, Entertaining

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,

75
Great acting, Intelligent, Slow, Dated, Entertaining

See it if Great acting in a neglected play.

Don't see it if Wish for more action - this is a play of words.

87
Absorbing, Clever, Enchanting

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

85
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Great writing

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

86
Funny, Clever, Intelligent, Great writing, Entertaining

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

87
Funny, Absorbing, Enchanting, Great acting, Intelligent

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!

81
Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Great acting, Slow

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.

77
Great acting, Intelligent, Cliched, Slow, Dated

See it if you are a fan of Checkov and British uptightness. This is truly British Checkov at its most iconic. Very good acting but interminable.

Don't see it if you want happy endings and action. It almost feels as if it happens in real time. There is nothing unexpected but it is all well done

70
Slow, Entertaining, Subtle, Bittersweet, Looooong

See it if you are willing to sit through a slow three hours of a well-acted play. The Mint did what it does well, reviving older works.

Don't see it if you are waiting for the edited version. Read Terry Teachout's article on play length in the WSJ.

85
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Slow, Classic-in-feel

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.

75
Thought-provoking

See it if some good lines & thoughts

Don't see it if you hate long shows > 2:30 hours

92
Masterful, Refreshing, Relevant, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if As usual, a play that showcases a wonderful story with clever staging!

Don't see it if You prefer to skip quality productions.

79
Intelligent, Slow, Charming, Good acting, Good staging

See it if you enjoy quirky characters with heart, who either cannot express their feelings or cannot stop. This would be wonderful with a long edit.

Don't see it if you will have trouble sitting through a slice of life story, with three acts that run close to three hours.

Also The play has some truly wonderful moments.

70
Refreshing, Romantic, Slow

See it if you know not all love stories end well, and want to see English country life between the wars.

Don't see it if slow, thoughtful shows are a bore for you. There is no electric revelations, no thunderbolts, just a quiet country outing with surprises

68
Enchanting, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Classic, Long

See it if You enjoy classic, British period plays.

Don't see it if you don't like long aristocratic period dramas. It was over three hours with two intermissions.

80
Entertaining

See it if you are entertained by drawing room British comedy with an engaging plot and good acting.

Don't see it if dislike plays that with British characters spending a weekend at a seaside house.

100
Funny, Enchanting, Intelligent, Profound, Introspective

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.

79
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if You like Chekhov. If you like depressing unhappy but realistic endings. If you want thoughtful interesting theater. A good not great Mint.

Don't see it if You want short plays. This is three hours including two intermissions. First act very slow. If you don't like Chekhov you will not like this

79
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Banal, Slow

See it if you like discovering lost English plays from the early 20th century, like Chekhov pacing, outstanding costumes, reflect on aging and success

Don't see it if you can't enjoy a three act, slow, old fashioned style play with sad, mournful characters contemplating what they have made of their lives

75
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Charming

See it if you are entering (or once entered) middle age, or if you simply enjoy well-crafted plays.

Don't see it if you prefer modern plays.

83
Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Slow

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

74
Intelligent, Entertaining, Well scted and staged

See it if You like old-fashioned )in a good way), slow storytelling about people facing unexpected challenges.

Don't see it if you are impatient and only enjoy 90 minute shows with no intermission

45
Disappointing, Insipid, Overrated, Slow, Dated

See it if You're a fan of N.C. Hunter and like revived plays

Don't see it if Sitting for 3 hours for a slow moving play is not your style