Skip to main content

The Man Who Had All The Luck

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars
The main reason we’re so gripped by Arthur Miller’s fables of the human soul is that his flawed heroes are damned by the consequences of their own mistakes. This early work is different. Here, David Beeves, the self-taught mechanic who becomes a runaway success story, isn’t up-ended by failure and divine retribution, only by his own guilt and self-torment at how he so effortlessly made it big.

John Dove’s rare revival of a play which itself bombed on its 1944 premiere treats Miller’s work not as some formative statement of a still developing talent, but as an undiscovered masterpiece. All of Miller’s hallmarks, after all, are inherent in a text which billows with the dangers of success as much as disappointment. As Beeves thrives, so everyone else is in a perennial downspin, with his wheelchair-bound war veteran boss mourning his days as a ladies man, while his brother looks set to have his big-league baseball dreams shattered. Increasingly terrified by his own good fortune, Beeves seems determined to will himself to his own downfall.

Shot through with a magical musical score more readily associated with Tennessee Williams, Dove shapes this most elegant of tragedies into something as inadvertently relevant right now as it was in post Depression America. Philip Cumbus’ initially bright-eyed Beeves is well-rounded enough to grow in both stature and sadness throughout, and there is some fine hang-dog humour from Greg Powrie as loveless mechanic Gus. It’s Beeves’ final words as he climbs the stairs to see his new born son and heir, though that reveals the terror of anyone who ever had it easy.

The Herald, January 20th 2009

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Bdy_Prts

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Saturday December 2nd


It should probably come as no surprise that professional dancers are in the audience for the Edinburgh leg of this mini tour by spectral performance art/pop auteurs Bdy_Prts on the back of the release of their sublime debut album, The Invisible Hero. Beyond the music, the raison d’etre of Bdy_Prts’ dynamic duo of Jill O'Sullivan and Jenny Reeve, after all, is a flamboyantly costumed display of kinetic physical jerks and modernist shape-throwing to illustrate a set of fizzing machine-age chorales.

In this sense, the Bdy_Prts live experience is several works of art for the price of one that's a long way from the pair's formative work fronting Sparrow and the Workshop (O'Sullivan) and Strike the Colours (Reeve). Part living sculptures, part Bloomsbury Group super-heroines, part widescreen pop fabulists, O'Sullivan and Reeve paint their faces with ancient symbols and sport customised shoulder pads that look both seasonally …