Review Round Up: The American Clock, Old Vic Theatre

Rachel Chavkin directs this revival of Arthur Miller’s play at  the Old Vic Theatre. Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews…

The Guardian: *** “The aim is to heighten the story’s timelessness and reflect the nation’s diversity: fine in theory but the effect, paradoxically, is to shift the focus away from the family. The real strength of the production lies in individual scenes that give vivid snapshots of 1930s America.”

The Times: *** “No 20th-century playwright was more gifted at depicting the downsides of the American dream than Arthur Miller. Heavens, though, this oddly shaped, rarely revived play about the Great Depression — first performed on Broadway in 1980 but only really a success when it played in this rejigged version at the National Theatre in 1986 — keeps you waiting for the sort of inspired material you expect from him.”

Time Out: *** “It’s a powerful, poignant and frequently enlightening journey. It’s also undoubtedly a bit of a slog: Chavkin and cast mine little sparks of magic from the text, but there’s little concealing the fact we’re watching a three-hour-long quasi-documentary with no plot.”

The Telegraph: **** “Asizeable thesis could be written on the way the crash of 2007 and 2008 has spilled out across our stages, from David Hare’s The Power of Yes at the National in 2009 up to The Lehman Trilogy there last year. Chiefly, it would have to take in how the Americans have bailed us out in making sense of it all. Perhaps the biggest debt needs to be paid to Arthur Miller, who’s being revived so much at the moment that he almost qualifies for some “playwright of the year” award.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “The performers pull great moments of emotion from the script, too. Golda Rosheuvel shines both as a committed Communist organiser and as the third version of Rose Baum, cracking under the strain; Clare Burt has a quiet dignity and the sweetest of smiles as the first version of Rose. Francesca Mills makes the character of Daisy, a girl who becomes suddenly popular because her mother owns an apartment building, into a warm and witty person. Fred Haig, Jyuddah Jaymes and Taheen Modak all find different notes in their portrayal of Lee, the idealistic writer.”

Evening Standard: ** “In director Rachel Chavkin’s interpretation, each of the Baums is played by three actors. The idea is to suggest the challenges faced by successive waves of immigrants: she has spoken of how this approach might call to mind a quilt or a collage. But it’s an innovation that can prove confusing, and at times the revolving stage feels cluttered.”

City AM: “this is not one of Miller’s better plays, and this production does a splendid job of triple-underlining why, as well as tossing in a bunch of flaws of its own.”

Broadway World: *** “The American Clock lacks neither talent nor good ideas, but discipline. With a revolving stage, triple-cast actors, groovy musical arrangements, and spontaneous dance breaks, there is a sense of creative bingeing. A lot of cool devices are employed, but at the expense of simplicity and honesty.”

British*** “show the devastating impact of political decisions and circumstances on ordinary citizens and as a reflection of American history, The American Clock  is an interesting watch. But as theatre, it begins to plod desperately in the second half and crawls to a conclusion. If you admire Miller, it’s worth seeing a lesser known and staged work, and there is much to enjoy within this good ensemble piece.”

The American Clock continues to play at the Old Vic Theatre  until the 30th March. To book tickets click here.

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