The West End has a spate of Arthur Miller revivals right now, and why? Watching Jeremy Herrin’s fine production of Miller’s first Broadway hit – a joint Headlong/Old Vic affair with a star cast headed by Sally Field, Bill Pullman and TV’s, Jenna Coleman and Colin Morgan, I thought at time of flux and fakery when lies masquerade as truth, are audiences finding comfort in Arthur Millers work? Probably, so. I did.
The play focuses on Joe Keller, a thriving businessman who escaped a wartime charge of issuing defective cylinder heads to combat planes by letting his partner take the rap. His wife, Kate, is convinced that their son, Larry, missing in action, is still alive. And when their other son, Chris, decides to marry Larry’s girl, Joe and Kate realise that soon their actions will have consequences.
An all-star cast, Sally Field portrays a mothers undying love superbly. Pullman does not leave the stage for a full 45 mins, holding the audience captivated and dominating each scene. Pullman and Sally created a believable relationship and partnership and you could feel their angst and anxiety throughout. Leading to a beautiful burst of truth and emotion. it is worth waiting for. Sally stole the show for me when he,r passion was spread thick across the stage.
The surprise for myself was Colin Morgan playing Joe and Kate’s son Chris. Being a fan of his (Humans, Merlin) I was excited to see what he would be like on stage, and he owned it. He was captivating, honest and his and Sally Fields scene towards the end brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye.
The supporting cast, the neighbours, their kids, Ann and Ann’s Brother all contribute to a well-acted and powerful production. Each character was individual and brought something to the story and the scene.
The stage design is very pretty and imaginative to look at. A pleasant back yard been hit by a storm, Joe slowly clears up the garden whilst his life slowly becomes a mess around him. A beautiful metaphor.
The story takes strides into promising some happiness and then tearing it apart in front of your eyes, piece by piece. The most devastating revelation in the piece isn’t necessarily whether Joe is guilty: it’s that his neighbours believe him to be guilty, and despise him, but don’t care enough to do anything about it.
Secrets and lies, secrets and scandals, secrets and revelations, Arthur Miller does it best and this whole production have done him proud.
This piece is on at The Old Vic until June 8th, and I implore you all to go and see it. Take an evening and enjoy a wonderful performance written by one of the worlds best playwrights.
Happy Viewing. R.x