By Arthur Miller
Directed by Steve Scott
Produced by Eclipse Theatre Company
At the Greenhouse Theater
Arthur Miller masterwork is in outstanding hands with Nathaniel Swift as Quentin
The 1964 semi-autobiographical drama is a tough, non-linear, almost surreal memory play. After The Fall is a study of one man’s search for meaning through the thoughts and memories stuck in his head. Using a narrative flashback featuring generous use of personal confessional monologues, Quentin (Nathanial Swift in a powerful, honest tour de force performance) is obsessed with how pointless is life has been. His focus is on his personal fall from innocence as he shows an intense moral discomfort.
Arthur Miller was influenced by Albert Camus’ existential “philosophy of limits” from works such as The Fall as he uses After The Fall as a cathartic exercise to rid himself of any guilt for not being able to keep Marlyn Monroe from self-destructive behavior. Miller’s themes include betrayal, guilt and universal bonds as well as an examination of interpersonal responsibility. It dramatizes the concept of how one person’s actions can make them responsible for the fate of another.
Nathaniel Swift deftly narrates and truthfully delivers the self-examination of Quentin’s life as he moves from guilt to self-deprecation to rationalization of the actions in his life. This is a wordy, dense, idea play that demands your full attention but Swift’s honesty fully engrosses us to care about Quentin’s personal plight. Miller’s obsession with Marlyn Monroe and the aftermath from House Unamerican Activities Committee hearings found its way into this drama.
We observe Quentin showing us how his relationship with his mother (Susan Monts-Bolgna), his first wife Louise (Julie Daley) and other women in his life including Holga (Sally Eames-Harlan) became unattainable –these relationships show how cold and indifferent Quentin can be as he feels misunderstood and betrayed.
The interrelationship between Quentin and the Monroe-like Maggie (Nora Fiffer in a fantastic, sensual yet fragile performance) highlights the work. Fiffer and Swift create a troubled yet enticing relationship filled with subtle , nuanced truth. Fiffer is an alluring figure who could melt a stone. The Swift-Fiffer dynamic is engrossing and real.
Swift navigates Quentin’s angst with a clarity that we easily relate to. He gets fine supporting work from Jerry Bloom (Father), Susan Monts-Bolgna (Mother0, Julie Daley (Louise), Eustace Allen (Lou) and Sally Easmes-Harlan) Holga.
After The Fall is a long-winded 3 hour affair that can be hard to follow for some but ultimately delivers an amazingly strong look into one person’s examination of the meaning of his life. Nathaniel Swift and Nora Fiffer anchor this well directed Miller classic.
At the Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL, call 773-404-7336, tickets $20 – $25, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm, running time is 3 hours with intermission.