(seen at the afternoon performance on 6th April 2019). Another week,
another Miller play in the West End. The banquet of work in a short space of
time allows the monkey to make far more easily than usual connections between
situations, characters and indeed periods in the writer's life.
This one could arguably be the grand-daughter of "The American Clock,"
showing what happened 40 years on, a period barely remembered by the children
here, Victor (John Hudson) and Walter (Adrian Lukis). Victor is all duty,
disposing of furniture for a father whom he supported through the worst times
when garbage cans provided food for the family table. Walter is the wealthy
doctor, controlled and controlling, or so it seems, for nothing is as it appears
in the Miller universe.
Between them are Victor's wife Esther (Sara Stewart), tired of a meagre
existence and hoping for more, and Solomon (David Suchet) an elderly registered
appraiser - chairman, once - prepared to buy and sell one last time.
Jonathan Church goes for an over-long opening silent sequence, and it takes
until Suchet's impeccably accurate elderly Jewish dealer appearance to kick
things into gear. Hudson relaxes into his "decent policeman" role, while Stewart
gives off various layers of loyalty, frustration, avarice and even lust in an
enjoyable balancing role. When Lukis appears late in the first act, and into the
second, the dynamic changes and his switching between motives and persona is
Simon Higlett's design seems a trifle elaborate but exciting, and Paul Pyant
keeps the lighting subdued yet appropriate. A nod too for Hannah Bell's credible
costumes (Solomon's cane and the dresses are nice details) and Matthew Scott for
musical composition - the monkey really thought it was all original period.
The play itself has interesting enough characters, but the second act
descends into standard Miller territory as certainties vanish as they always do
in his writing. One good revelation keeps the play afloat, but the resolution is
barely defined and the laughter inconclusive - as maybe it should be. Worth it
for Suchet and the rest of the cast performances, but not the best Miller ever