The Man Who Had All The Luck ***

19Jan09

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Friday 16th January – Saturday 14th February 2009

Questions about luck are raised at the Lyceum this month in the form of a, lesser known, Arthur Miller play The Man Who Had All The Luck. A play that closed after only four performances in its initial run on Broadway in 1944, long before the success of his better known plays. Since then Miller’s play has been revived more successfully in both the USA and in the UK. Nevertheless, director John Dove’s production left this reviewer wondering if the play has any relevance to a modern audience and if there is a good reason that it is a lesser known Miller play.

There is no denying that the Lyceum production is smoothly staged, with appealing performances from some familiar Lyceum faces and newcomers to the Lyceum. The character of the title, played by Philip Cumbus, has an interesting, almost naive, charm about him, which allows the audience to invest in the character and follow his story. Yet the audience became slightly restless towards the end, as his story crawled towards an, arguably, unsatisfactorily conclusion. Familiar Miller themes of family and community resonate throughout the piece, but these themes are not fully fulfilled to the extent they are in his later work.

A stronger element of this production is Michael Taylor’s set design, which is well crafted to create a small American town of the 1940s. However, this reviewer fears, that this production will be remembered for the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang factor – the impressive car brought into the garage in the first act. Overall, the production is of an extremely high standard and manages to grip the attention of the audience for the most part. However, the play does not bring anything new to the luck debate and will be easily forgettable.

TF

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