Eclipse Theatre Company, known for it’s theme ,”one playwright, one season, one illuminating journey” is now presenting one ofthe most difficult of Arthur Miller’s many works, “After the Fall”, a soul searching personality study in which the playwright takes his own life experience and brings it to his characters.This story is as close to autobiographical as any story could be. Sure he uses other names as well as other career patths, but if one can listen to the words being said and the story being by told in this three hours of tense drama with a few comic spots, one can see the misery that clouded Miller’s life and the memories that probably were the reason for his marvelous stories.
There are many that say that theater is escapism, a chance for an audience to forget the problems of the day or the week and for a short period of time watch someone else’s story unfold. Perhaps, great writers experience their release by taking their problems and putting them in the hands and brains of their characters, perhaps alter-egos of their very own personalities. This would make it seem unreal, at least for awhile as the problems would be thiers, not his or hers.
Three hours of dark drama can be difficult for an audience to endure, in particular when the theater is small and we have been in a heat wave, but the work of the Eclipse cast under the direction of Steve Scott is powerful and each character is real. Nathaniel Swift, Artistic Director of this troupe has taken on the lead role of Quentin, the alter-ego of playwright Miller. During this trip down memory lane we meet his loves and learn more about his personality. His mother ( powerfully played by Susan Monts-Bologna) who brought him up in a house of guilt. His father ( Jerry Bloom shines as the man who worried about the almighty dollar more than relationships), his brother Dan (Joe McCauley) , also weak due to the non-family family they grew up in, and of course his “commie” friends and enemies and of course the women.
Yes, Miller was brought up before the McCarthy hearings as a Communist and his friends who were afraid of losing everything caved in and “named names”. His friends were not really his friends because just like his family, they all were “users” concerned with their own desires and needs. But the women were very important. The girl he assisted through her divorce who always was on his mind( Margaret Grace), Holga ( deftly handled by Sally Eames-Harlan) his tour gude , lover in Austria, His wife ,Louise ( a strong performance by Julie Daley) who he evidently cared for, but didn’t truly love the way she wanted to be loved and of course Maggie, te alter ego of the woman he never got over, Marilyn Monroe ( played with great heart and soul by Nora Fiffer, who’s only problem is speaking too quickly at times which does not allow the audience to hear every word of what Miller is saying. In this masterpiece of a play, we NEED to hear every word, so perhaps she will learn from Swift who “truly gets it!”
The ensemble members, Nina O’Keefe, Eustace Allen, Eric Leonard,Kate Brown,Kevin Kenneally,Robert L.Oakes and Chad Ramsey are the icing on the cake of a well acted, well directed production of one of Miller’s most difficult works. If you think about the content and the setting for this play it all takes place in the mind, memory and soul o one man, the author! This sterling production will continue at the Greenhouse Theater located at 2257 N. Lincoln Ave through August 22nd with performances as follows:
Thursday,Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday at 3 p.m.
Tickets are a mere $25, a bargain for quality of this nature and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 773-404-7336 or online at www.eclipsetheatre.com
There are half price tickets available subject to availability on day of performance and parking is available at Children’s Memorial Hospital at a discount.