The Ride Down Mount Morgan

By Arthur Millerthe ride down mount morgan by arthur miller at redtwist theatre chicago

Directed by Alex Levy

At Redtwist Theatre

Controversial Miller 1990’s drama still resonates today

Redtwist Theatre is adept at mounting rare Arthur Miller plays (Broken Glass, The Last Yankee, The American Clock, etc). Their production of The Ride Down Mount Morgan is another pleasant surprise as director Alex Levy and his design team (Set Designer Grant Sabin, Lighting designer Christopher Burpee and sound Designer Christopher Kriz) combined to turn Redtwist’s intimate space into an effective platform for Miller’s controversial drama.  Ride is Miller’s answer to the greed and excess of the Reagan Era (1980’s).

the ride down mount morgan by arthur miler

In Ride, Miller presents one of his most complex characters–Lyman Felt (Robert Dennison)–a self-made insurance millionaire. Lyman is brilliant, charming and quite charismatic. He is also a devious, amoral, selfish, delusional liar who convinces himself that his deceptions are truthful.  For ten years he juggles two wives–one Theodora (Jan Ellen Graves) his spouse of 30+ years and Leah (Jacqueline Grandt) his wife of 9 years.

the ride down mount morgan

When an auto accident leaves Lyman in serious condition in a hospital, his false life style crumbles as both ‘wives’ meet when Mrs. Felt is notified of the accident. Filled with comic moments and high emotions, Ride becomes a most controversial when we see that Lyman devoutly believing that he should be able to have and keep both wives. He uses every trick in his charm chest to woo Theodora and Leah back in his life. Only his daughter Bessie (Susan Myburgh) is unforgiving.

Miller effectively presents Lyman’s rationalization that what he wants, he should be able to get since the world seems to revolve around his  ego. Robert Dennison plays Lyman’s ego, his charm, and his painful need to ‘have it all’ with depth and honesty. Dennison deftly almost convinces us that he is righteous. Lyman actually does not think he has done wrong since he has made each woman happy.

Jan Ellen Graves and Jacqueline Grandt nicely portray the women in Lyman’s life.  The show has emotional confrontations between the wives and Lyman  as the betrayal and selfish actions collide.  The acting among these three is strong and proficient.

Miller presents Lyman’s shades as overlaying degrees of veracity. Is he the charming, yet evil narcissist or the struggling misunderstood man? Miller presents Lyman in shades of gray. Dennison effectively shows all sides of this complex man. This most engaging play will get you debating the nature of love and betrayal long after you leave the theatre. Kudos to Redtwist Theatre for mounting this rare gem. The cast did Miller’s problem play justice.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

At Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL, call 773-727-7529, www.redtwist.org, tickets $22 – $27- $30, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission, through July 3, 2009