Directed by Steven Fedoruk
Produced by Eclipse Theatre Company
At the Greenhouse Theater Center
Moving tribute to all the lost souls of the labor force.
Finishing their season of Arthur Miller plays with his rarely mounted A Memory of Two Mondays, Eclipse Theatre once more has assembled a terrific ensemble theatrical event. Director Steven Fedoruk’s fourteen member cast deftly paint a portrait of the working life of millions of Americans in the 1930’s that still resonates in today’s world. Mike Winkelman’s parts warehouse set is aptly depressing foreshadowing the gloom of work.
Bert (Brandon Ruiter) is the perky, optimistic young fellow who only works at the Brooklyn auto part warehouse until he can save enough money to enroll in college. He lives at home and he saves $11 out of his $15 weekly income to snare his dreams of higher education. Bert (Miller’s alter ego) knows he’ll escape the trap of living the hopelessness and despondency of being trapped eking out a living shipping auto parts.
Miller’s slice of working life drama is filled with lost souls trapped into the monotonous motions of meaningless work. Miller’s characters are fully developed and range from the drunkard Tom(Malcolm Callan) to the ever-nervous foreman Raymond (Kevin Scott) to the wildly exuberant Gus (Vincent L. Longeran) to the frustrated Larry (Joshua Venditti) who can’t afford to both feed his family and own a decent car. We meet the Irish immigrant, Kenneth (JP Pierson) who sings Irish folk songs and spouts poetry to Bert as he struggles to move on from the trappings of steady, yet unfulfilled work as he searches for the American Dream.
A Tale of Two Mondays is a short, yet powerful 75 minute one-act that dramatically depicts the dream-sapping futility of work to survive that finds not only what these poor souls but millions more must do to survive. We emphasize and pity the morally defeated zombie-like existence many are forced to endure. Thank God, I was able like Bert to escape such a fate. Miller seems to understand the resignation most have to exist rather than the courage to venture out into the scary unknown world in search of a dream. Family obligations and fear of the unknown surely play a role here. The drudgery of job security verses challenge of dreaming is central to this work.
This is a terrific ensemble production filled with heart-wrenching performances. Vince L. Longergan, John Ruhaak, Joshua Venditti and JP Pierson were particularly outstanding. Brandon Ruiter led the way as the optimistically young man determined to live life to the fullest. This rare gem mirrors one of life’s most pressing dilemmas.
At the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL, call 773-404-7336, www.eclipsetheatre.com, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm, running time is 75 minutes without intermission.