THE AMERICAN CLOCK
by Arthur Miller.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Wine Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 21 April 2012.
Runs 2hr 5min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 15 April.
A timely revival.
Look at Arthur Miller’s Dramatis Personae in this 1980 drama. And consider the number of characters. After all the patient exploration of scenes of social responsibility through questions of individual consciences, Miller, the socially aware follower of Ibsen in exploring the individual conscience, here set time ticking on American society as the 1929 Wall Street stock-market crash took its effect. All societies have a clock ticking for them, someone here says, and if not stopped it leads to a time-bomb exploding.
In post-credit crunch Austerity Britain, with worse possibly to come, there’s no prize for guessing why Phil Wilmott has revived this tapestry of responses to ruin: ‘it’s the economy, stupid’. And society’s refusal to learn from grim experience.
From Patrick Poletti’s banker going unheeded in his early warnings that late twenties prosperity’s built on a bubble, through Issy van Randwyck’s cultured Rose, setting ever-lower bottom-lines for what she’ll sell, explaining to her son what a pawn-shop is as the economy rockets downwards and he gives up a university place for a job, to the wider unemployed (reaching towards John Steinbeck’s Joad family) sections of intercut stories build a picture of the times.
Sharpening the point, the strong cast open as spectators at a modern art-gallery private viewing, sipping wine and exchanging muttered opinions over an exhibition of Depression-era photos. Then a ‘phone goes. At the end, the smartly-dressed viewers reassemble. All their mobiles ring-out, and panic breaks out among the cognoscenti – who it seems didn’t know it all, then or now.
Finborough audience members have also taken the opportunity to view the photos. All helping Wilmott clinch the modern relevance. It might have been the end for America, if Roosevelt hadn’t happened along just as faith in political leaders was evaporating. And here, and now? Well, there’s….
Arthur A Robertson: Patrick Poletti.
Clarence/Frank/Banks/Rudy: Daniel Norford.
Rose Baum: Issy van Randwyck.
Moe Baum: Michael J Hayes.
Lee Baum: Michael Benz.
Fanny Margolies/Irene: Eva Fontaine.
Grandpa/William Durant/Judge Bradley/Kapush: James Horne.
Dr Rosman/Henry Taylor/Theodore K Quinn/Toland/Stanislav: Richard Morse.
Diana Morgan/Doris Gross/Grace: Natalie Kent.
Jesse Livermore/Joe/Frank Howard/Graham/Ryan: Christopher Heyward.
Clayton/Miss Fowler/Isabel/Edie: Megan Elizabeth Pitt.
Brewster/Sidney Margolies/Ralf/Dugan: David Ellis.
Director: Phil Wilmott.
Designer: Philip Lindley.
Lighting: Jason Meininger.
Sound: Edward Lewis.
Costume: Gregor Donnelly.