London Wall Charms at the Mint Theater
Elise Kibler, Alex Trow, Katie Gibson, and Matthew Gumley in a scene from the Mint Theater production of London Wall.
Old-timey telephones ringing, papers shuffling, typewriters clacking, buzzers bleating — the Mint Theater’s revival of the 1931 London Wall is in love with its period office setting. Behind a proscenium framed with filing cabinets, presumably from the law office where the play takes place, the actors navigate an impressively stuffed but fluid set by Marion Williams. That a sweet and emotionally sophisticated romantic comedy emerges from such a setting is the distinct achievement both of John Van Druten’s writing and Davis McCallum’s sure-handed direction.
The plot follows an older and younger secretary navigating the well-worn worlds of work and love. Julia Coffey, as the tough, calculating elder, holds tightly to the production’s center of gravity, while Elise Kibler, as the younger, takes a lighter touch to her character’s slow maturation. Stephen Plunkett portrays their sweet-talking, misogynistic superior with a softness that textures an otherwise unctuous villain.
At times, the production bears a touch of artifice as the company lightly apes British period television. It’s good fun, but it makes Jonathan Hogan’s more natural and simple performance as the boss’s boss, who cleans up the complications in act three, a refreshing late-in-the-evening change.
There’s little to clean up, though, in this smart, unpretentious theatrical trifle, certain to charm the same American audience that loves to hate Downton Abbey.
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