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

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…

Rob Drummond – The Mack

Rob Drummond was at home in England when he looked at the news feed on his phone, and saw a post about the fire at Glasgow School of Art. It was June 2018, and the writer and performer behind such hits as Grain in the Blood, Bullet Catch and Our Fathers initially presumed the post was to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 blaze in GSA’s Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing a major restoration after much of it was destroyed.
As it turned out, the news was far worse, as reports of a second fire were beamed across the world. As someone who had taken Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic construction for granted while living in Glasgow, Drummond was as stunned as anyone else with even a passing relationship with the Mack.
While emotions continue to run high in response to the disaster, Drummond channelled his thoughts on all this into what he does best. The result is The Mack, a new play that forms part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint lunchtime theatre season in Glasgow prior …