theatreSCOTLAND















About Me

My Photo
Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
View my complete profile

Followers

Blog Archive

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Man who Had all the Luck

Published in The Guardian © Mark Fisher

The Man Who Had All the Luck
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh
4 out of 5

It's the Arthur Miller play that slipped through the net. Having lasted three days on Broadway in 1944, The Man Who Had All the Luck took nearly 50 years to cross the Atlantic and is even now a Miller rarity.

There are reasons for its neglect. Some passages are underwritten, such as the oddly cool reaction to the death of the neighbourhood patriarch in a car accident, and the play as a whole never quite settles on the tragic trajectory it promises. Yet it is more than just a curiosity for Miller fans, much as they will appreciate the themes of aspiration, social responsibility and the American dream that would define his later work. As well as featuring his trademark dialogue - compelling, funny, full of ideas - it is also a grand experiment in which the playwright reverses the usual journey of a tragic hero.

This is the story of one man, 22-year-old David Beeves, whose good luck never lets up. While those around him suffer everyday failures from redundancy to infertility, this self-taught mechanic only prospers.

Now, as the UK slides into recession, his dilemma seems more acute. In 2009, there is so much camaraderie in failure that to admit success is impolite. Even in America, the land of opportunity, Beeves feels ever more alienated from his community the more his business thrives. As an audience, we end up willing some disaster to befall him.

If the ending seems a cop-out, it is not the fault of the Royal Lyceum's excellent ensemble, led by Philip Cumbus (hard-edged yet sympathetic as Beeves) and under the taut, driven direction of John Dove, who treats the play as the classic it aspires to be.

© Mark Fisher

No comments: