THE RAT TRAP by Noël Coward
Alex directed the American Premiere of The Rat Trap by Noël Coward for the Mint Theater Company, New York City.
The Rat Trap ran from 1st November - 10th December 2022 at New York City Center Stage II.
The Mint presents the American première of this astounding Noël Coward work, first mounted, in London, in 1926, but written eight years earlier, when the author was eighteen. The unabashedly feminist piece follows the fortunes of a young married couple, Sheila (Sarin Monae West) and Keld (James Evans): though the pair begin their marriage blissfully in love, the patterns of patriarchy inexorably worm their way into the relationship as his playwriting career takes soul-killing precedence over her early success as a novelist. Coward’s construction is masterly, even at this formative stage—the early banter is witty and epigrammatic, and the later, deadly serious confrontations achieve audience-stilling breathlessness. Both West and Evans are excellent, playing off of supporting characters—a cynical old friend (Elisabeth Gray), a farcical bohemian pair (Ramzi Khalaf and Heloise Lowenthal), an ambitious ingénue (Claire Saunders), a deadpan, scene-stealing housekeeper (Cynthia Mace)—whose dialogue subtly but clearly defines them, and the director, Alexander Lass, draws out every bit of wisdom, comedy, and intelligence that the superb cast has to offer.
Written by Noël Coward
Directed by Alexander Lass
Set Design by Vicki Davis
Costume Design by Hunter Kaczorowski
Lighting Design by Christian DeAngelis
Sound Design by Bill Toles
Dialects & Dramaturgy by Amy Stoller
Casting by Stephanie Klapper
Associate Producer: Matthew McVey-Lee
Mint Theater Company Producing Artistic Director: Jonathan Bank
Illustration by Stefano Imbert
Sarin Monae West
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Noël Coward wrote The Rat Trap when he was 18—the first play he authored on his own. This remarkably mature drama tells the story of a newlywed couple looking towards a bright future together, two promising writers vowing to support and love each other through the challenges of creative and professional endeavor. Things go even worse than you might imagine. Of course, The Rat Trap shows flashes of Coward’s brilliant, brittle wit, but this play is not so much a dry martini as it is a bitter stout, dark and foamy. “When I had finished it,” he wrote in 1937, “I felt, for the first time with genuine conviction, that I could really write plays.”
The Rat Trap languished for a few years before being published in 1924. It was not produced until 1926, riding on the coattails of Coward’s success with The Vortex, Fallen Angels, and Hay Fever. Audiences expecting the scandalous decadence and high farce of these other works must have been surprised by Coward’s psychological realism. It only ran for two weeks; Coward, away from England, never even saw it. The first-ever revival came 80 years later at the Finborough in London, where it was exclaimed by the Evening Standard as “an absolute revelation.”