Resurrection Blues

By Arthur Miller

Resurrection Blues by Arthur Miller at eclipse theatre

Directed by Nathaniel Swift

Produced by Eclipse Theatre Company

At the Greenhouse Theatre Center

Chicago premiere of Arthur Miller’s “tragic farce” is not the Miller you might expect.

Kudos to Nathaniel Swift and the folks at Eclipse Theatre for the determination to present Arthur Miller’s extreme tragic farce, Resurrection Blues. They battled the Miller estate for the Chicago rights and they finally were able to mount this most un-Miller like work.   Miller’s 2002 penultimate play brilliantly satirizes modern politics and faith in a media-obsessed society. This is whacked-out satire that contains both Miller’s wonderful dialogue and apt speeches and, a rarely used farcical satirical style  each used to hone in to make Miller’s duality– “hope and disgust, high amusement and despair. It’s all packed into one play.”

Resurrection Blues by Arthur Miller at eclipse theatre

Miller once said “The absurdity of so much around me is such, that the only way I could keep looking at it was to find something outrageously funny in it.” Thus Resurrection Blues. Let the satire begin…

Resurrection Blues by Arthur Miller at eclipse theatre

“High in the mountains of an unnamed dictatorship, a revolution is brewing. When the rebels’ messiah-like leader is captured, an American production company purchases the rights to televise his sentence: death by crucifixion.”

Resurrection Blues by Arthur Miller at eclipse theatre

Featuring a buffoon dictator, General Felix Barriaux  (the delightfully zany Matt Welton) and his cousin/philosopher Henri Schultz (the droll Ron Butts in a standout performance), Resurrection Blues is the satirical farce about modern politics, faith and contemporary media-obsessed society.  Miller’s work blends wacky, over-the-top performances ( especially by Welton’s Flex) and biting satire with emotional resonance together with thickly complicated observations on ideas and social philosophy.

Miller’s scathing attack on the media and his assessment of the power of religious symbols work to mirror contemporary trends. Miller lands his themes and commentary with colorful characters and absurd situations. The cast featured fine work from Rebecca Prescott (Emily Sharpiro), JP Pierson (Stanley) and Joe McCauley (Skip L. Cheeseboro) in addition to the terrific work from Welton and Butts.

Resurrection Blues is a treat for Arthur Miller enthusiasts as well as lovers of social satire comedies. Miller’s ideas about the effects of faith are scary. This rarely produced tragic farce is another triumph for Eclipse Theatre in their season of Arthur Miller.  Be prepared to see another side of the legendary American playwright.

Recommended

Tom Williams

At the Greenhouse Theatre, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL, call 773-404-7336, tickets $25, www.eclipsetheatre.com, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission.