Within the Law OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

  • NY TIMES

  • TALKIN' BWAY

  • THEATER PIZZAZZ

Opening Night:
May 31, 2014
Closing:
June 29, 2014

Theater: Metropolitan Playhouse / 220 East Fourth Street, New York, NY, 10009

Synopsis: 

The tale of a good girl done wrong...and out for revenge. Mary Turner is suspected of theft from the department store where she works as a shop girl. Sent up the river for three years, she comes out determined to give Society its just deserts, and she discovers ingenious means of doing so while always staying within the law. Can a life of legitimate crime pay? Certainly not without complications: logistical, ethical, and romantical. A twisting and turning melodrama with a light-fingered social conscience from the Progressive age.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Within the Law

    A Lowly Scorned Shopgirl Takes On the Upper Crust
    ‘Within the Law’ Is a Revival Focusing on Social Justice

    Daniel M. Gold

    June 8, 2014: However current the issues of income inequality, a living wage and an arbitrary criminal justice system may be, Within the Law reminds us that they have long been fodder for popular entertainment. A Broadway hit in 1912, and adapted several times for the movies, this play by Bayard Veiller and revived by the Metropolitan Playhouse aspires to a Dickensian blend of melodrama and social justice. As it opens, its heroine, Mary Turner (Elisabeth Preston), an honest shop clerk, has been sentenced to three years in prison for stealing from the New York department store where she works. Before she is sent upstate, Edward Gilder (John D. McNally), the store’s owner, agrees to meet with her. After protesting her innocence, Mary adds that if he wants to cut down theft at his company, he should raise wages: “An honest girl can’t live on $6 a week.” Gilder responds that the salaries are in line with other stores, and that he will not seek leniency on her behalf. Very well, Mary vows: “You are going to pay.”

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  • TALKIN' BROADWAY REVIEW OF Within the Law

    Within the Law Theatre Review by Howard Miller

    Howard Miller

    June 8, 2014: With messages about corporate greed, the plight of the working poor, the unequal treatment of women in the workplace, and the often mutually exclusive concepts of “the law” and “justice,” it should come as no surprise that the Metropolitan Playhouse’s revival of Bayard Veiller’s Within the Law retains its ability to grip theatergoers — even though the play first saw the light of day in 1912. While it certainly is true that Within the Law is a melodrama, the writing is sharp and often very clever, and the cast, under Michael Hardart’s steady direction, stays focused on the play’s prevailing theme while assiduously steering clear of the kinds of emotional excess associated with the genre. The central character is Mary Turner (an excellent Elisabeth Preston), a smart and confident young woman who is working as a sales person at The Emporium, owned and operated by Edward Gilder (John D. McNally). Despite a stellar reputation and a spotless record, Mary has been accused of theft from the store, and has been summarily tried and convicted on circumstantial evidence, abetted by Mr. Gilder’s insistence that she be made an example of, and, as she says, the fact that her court-appointed counsel was a “boy trying his first case.”

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  • THEATER PIZZAZZ REVIEW OF Within the Law

    Within the Law – A melodrama in 4 acts

    Mari Lyn Henry

    June 10, 2014: A societal clash between the wealthy CEO of a department store and the poor shop girl who slaves for him working nine hour days, earning a paltry six dollars a week, faced with starvation and cramped living quarters; the weak judicial system and inept legal profession enhanced by the strong- armed tactics of the NY Police Department, and evils of the state prison, are the relevant themes in Bayard Veiller’s Within the Law, a stirring drama about injustice, vengeance and exoneration. Written in 1912, the plot concerns Mary Turner, convicted for stealing $400 from Edward Gilder’s Emporium, where she has worked for five years, and who is sentenced to a three year prison term in spite of her declarations of innocence. Gilder uses her incarceration as a warning to his employees. The action begins when Mary, handcuffed to Detective Cassidy, confronts Gilder in his office but her protestations fall on deaf ears. As she exits, she vows revenge. The second act occurs four years later. Mary is now living in Gramercy Square in a well-furnished room and is financially secure, operating a clever blackmailing gang that is always within the law. She tells Agnes Lynch, roomie and cohort, “the richest men in this country made their fortunes not because of the law, but in spite of it. ..anyone with brains can get rich in this country if he’ll engage the right lawyer. I have the brains and my attorney …is showing me the law… ”

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