Arthur Miller denied any autobiographical intention in his writing of After the Fall, which was pretty rich considering the play shows us a left-wing intellectual who breaks with an old pal during the McCarthy troubles and leaves his wife for a vulnerable sex goddess.
Of course it is the story of the writer’s turbulent life with Marilyn Monroe and every bit as autobiographical as The American Clock, another Miller ‘rarity’ (concerned with the Depression era) which the Oxford School of Drama successfully presented at Chippy three years ago.
Back at the same venue last week, under the direction of the school’s boss, George Peck, the young players showed once again the strength – and, indeed, depth — of talent being nurtured at this increasingly important training ground for thesps.
While generally dismissed in the past by critics for its unfocused and confusing narrative, the play emerged here as a lucid, gripping and, at times painfully personal piece of work.
We were offered in this production not one ‘Arthur Miller’ but four. These were present on the spartanly furnished stage in the form of lawyer Quentin (Rob Fawsitt) who recounted episodes from earlier in his life which were played out by three younger ‘selves’ (Russell Woodhead, Sam Miller and Martin Coat).
Similarly, Peck gave us a trio of ‘Marilyns’ (actually Maggie) in Lauren Johns, Pandora McCormick and Karina Sugden, each with varying degrees of physical similarity to the star but all recognisable through the platinum blonde wig and trademark pout.
To Ms Sugden (…) fell the task – admirably accomplished – of presenting the actress as a bitter, booze-battered victim of celebrity culture.
As painful in their way were the scenes with Emma Britton as Quentin’s first wife Louise, no less a victim – as so many women are – of a selfish, philandering husband.
(Source: Oxford Times)
Playwright: Arthur Miller
Play date: February 2010
Venue: Chippy Theatre
Director: George Peck
- Quentin (Rob Fawsitt, Russell Woodhead, Sam Miller, Martin Coat)
- Maggie (Lauren Johns, Pandora McCormick, Karina Sugden)
- Louise (Emma Britton)
- Dan (Andrew Gower)
- Nell Hudson (“Laoghaire” in Outlander) was in her first year at the Oxford School of Drama during this production of After The Fall and played an extra. At Starfury’s Highlanders 3 convention she praised Andrew’s acting in the play. She said even though “Dan” was only a small role, Andrew completely made it his own. “Especially if you play such a small role, and make it shine like this… everyone could see his talent, and we all knew he’d make it far.” (paraphrased)