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The Man Who Had All The Luck


Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
4 stars
Arthur Miller's little seen Broadway flop might just have found its time in this new touring co-production between the enterprising Sell A Door company and Mull Theatre. When the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh presented it on their main stage in 2009, the ongoing recession was already biting hard. Three years on, Miller's tale of one man finding material and domestic success while all about him flounder feels even fresher and more pertinent than it did then.

Miller's play was written in 1940, and first seen in 1944. It focuses on David Beeves, a young mechanic in a small town in middle America. When he attempts to speak to his sweetheart Hester's father about marrying her, the tyrant is hit by a car and killed. When Beeves is flummoxed as to how to fix a particularly flashy vehicle, Austrian whiz-kid Gustav turns up to show him how it's done, this ensuring that Beeves' business thrives.

So it goes in a flawed but still beautiful play which taps into the everyday fears of the common man as much as any of Miller's later works. There's a raw power too in David Hutchinson's impressively stately production. As nice guy Beeves, Stephen Bisland looks increasingly haunted as he wrestles with his own good fortune, almost willing himself to fail while Megan Elizabeth Pitt's sweet Hester looks on. While the play's dramatic shifts are kept low-key, there's a brightly-lit starkness that bathes its more unsavoury exchanges with an unholy glow. David Ben Shannon's lush, string-laden score also lends poignancy to a tale in which failure and success are unflinchingly dissected in a painfully realistic fable.

The Herald, November 9th 2012

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