To complete its year of Arthur Miller plays, Eclipse Theatre Company has chosen one of Miller’s seldom produced plays, “A Memory of Two Mondays”. It is also probably one of his shortest as well with a running time of 75 minutes. Miller always had a lot to say in his plays, but for some reason, he was able to get to his point in the normal time for one act of a regular Miller piece. It may be possible that when he began this story, he thought he had more to say, and when he saw that he reached his point, he just ended it. I for one feel that this story, which takes place in the 30’s is quite relevant today. The theme of this story is the rat race we live in, a sort of rat race on a treadmill, where even though we keep running towards our goal, we seem to stay exactly where we are.
The story revolves around some very interesting characters, employed in an auto parts warehouse in New York. There are two scenes, bot are on Mondays, the start of another week and the first step on running in the rat race of the same. All of these characters have given a great deal of their lives to the jobs they have with the exception of young Bert (deftly handled by Brandon Ruiter) who is working towards earning and saving so that he can go to college. He sees what young eyes see, each day, as he boards the subway to go to work, the same people, doing the same thing, with the only change being they are getting older. All of these characters live routine lives doing the same things every day and every week-end with no change in sight. He at least has a dream.
There are young characters as well as old. Raymond ( Kevin Scott) is the manager of the shipping department and just does his job while running interference for his people; Kenneth ( JP Pierson brings a very realistic feeling to this character) is the young Irishman who would love to be something more, but realizes that this dusty hell-hole is his lot in life. His character brings out the poetry in Bert and together they have a wonderful scene that separates the two scenes, from a hot steamy Monday to a cold wintry Monday as they clean the windows of this dirty warehouse in order to let in the light and perhaps another piece of the world.
Gus ( a strong character played by Vincent L. Lonergan) has been in this job for 22 years and has what appears to be a sad home life although we later find that not to be the case, but he does care about those he works with in particular old Jim ( a nice comic touch played skillfully by John Ruhaak) and Tom ( Malcom Callan) a drunk who reforms during the transition from scene one to scene 2. This is a strong ensemble piece, where each of the characters has importance for the others. At work they are a sort of family, spending more time with their fellow workers than with their own families. Mr. Eagle, the main boss ( Joel Reitsma) is the only main character who truly does not intertwine with the rest. They all fear him as they control their destinies. Mike Winkleman’s set could be considered a main character in this story as it truly helps in the telling of Miller’s story and the Props by Curious Theatrical Properties, Taylar and Katie Vandehey are terrific as well as authentic in appearance. Director Steven Fedoruk uses the set and many doors to keep the audience’s interest at a high level, and I must tell you the scene involving the warehouse mice is done to perfection.
The lighting by Chris Corwin and Nathaniel Swift had me a little concerned as there were some moments they dimmed when I couldn’t understand why, but that is the only flaw I found in bringing this story to the stage. The musical interludes and sound by Sorin Brouwers and the costumes by Angie Wendelberger added the final touches that make this play complete. I also feel that the ensemble members should be proud of the work they turned out- Josh Venditti, Eric Ryan Swanson, Niall McGinty, Cheri Chenowith,Torey Adkins and Geraldine Dulex ( who plays the “femme fatale”, sex-kitten Patricia just as I am sure Miller saw her. Perhaps by viewing this play we can see just how much our lives are a rat race leading nowhere. But maybe, just maybe, being made aware of how we live might just open our eyes to the treadmill that we are running in and we can do as Bert does- say,”Stop the world, I want to get off” and look for something better.
“A Memory of Two Mondays” will continue at The Greenhouse Theater located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue through October 17th with performances as follows:
Thursday,Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Sundays at 2:30 p.m. ( with post show discussions on Sunday)
Tickets are $25 ( there are half price tickets available on day of performance, subject to availability) To be honest, I think this show will fill up rapidly. Students and seniors- with ID, tickets are $20. To order tickets call 773-404-7336 or visit www.eclipsetheatre.com
Parking is available at Children’s Memorial Hospital at a discounted rate