Eclipse Theatre presents
AFTER THE FALL
At Greenhouse Theatre, 2257 N. Lincoln
Written by Arthur Miller
Directed by Steve Scott
Thru August 22nd
Running Time: Three hours includes a ten minute intermission
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
In a lifetime of memories, what kinds of insignificant moments of significance haunt an existence? As part of its Exploring Arthur Miller 2010 Season, Eclipse Theatre presents AFTER THE FALL. Originally directed and influenced by Elia Kazan in 1964, AFTER THE FALL is a semi-autobiographical depiction of Arthur Miller's search for the meaning of life. Two failed marriages, death of his mother and potential love interest have Quentin deliberating about his past. The action for most of the play is taking place in Quentin's head. A chance encounter with an unseen acquaintance has Quentin reflecting on his life. It's a hodge-podge of random interactions that coagulate into a man's inability to love. Historical massive human betrayals: the depression, holocaust, and Red Scare, are mingled with trivial encounters about a stranger's nose job, friend's wife's tits, and brother's departing words. 'A stranger in my own life,' Quentin is overwhelmed to see the power and evil within himself that directly affects people. AFTER THE FALL is a courageous contemplation of human inadequacies.
On the stage for the duration, Nathaniel Swift (Quentin) smoothly transitions from monologue to dialogue. Swift is a masterful storyteller. Whether he's talking to nobody or interacting with a random somebody, his self revelation on his role in things falling apart are continuous understated surprises. His reflections seem to be authentic in-the-moment conclusions. In the Marilyn Monroe role, Nora Fiffer (Maggie) enchants as the wide-eyed, innocent Quentin hero worshipper. Later, Fiffer transforms into a Brittany Spears whack job. Julie Daley (Louise) plays the first wife with splendid resignation. Her refusal to help with a telephone number is passive aggressive comedy. Using sweet endearments to couch non-maternal exposition, Susan Monts-Bologna (mother) is one manipulative mother.
Under the direction of Steve Scott, the entire cast maneuvers around Swift with
deliberate contrast to his even keel. He looks like a man in control but his head is exploding with unexplored feelings. The ensemble starts the show with scattered whisperings and random poses. These translate throughout the show as individual memorable lines during a Quentin interaction. Scott keeps the pace steady and tight as the cameos reveal the rise and fall and rise and fall of an admiral man with human frailties.
Arthur Miller has penned an expose of his life in AFTER THE FALL. Interestingly, this portrayal of a flawed man also marked his reconciliation with Elia Kazan. During the Red Scare, Kazan's 'naming names' betrayal severed their friendship. With AFTER THE FALL, Miller publicly confesses his own crimes against humanity. His offenses are legal but still detrimental and definitely relatable. Eclipse Theatre's production of AFTER THE FALL is a Swift flawless plunge into revelation.
Production photos by Scott Cooper.