Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Ride Down Mount Morgan"

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note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Carl A. Rossi


by Arthur Miller
directed by Andrea Butler

Lyman … Jackson Royal
Nurse Logan … Yawa Duse-Anthony
Theo … Christine Connor
Bessie … Kate Lovell
Leah … Susan Condit Rice
Tom … Bob Evans

In his day, he was called a tragedian --- genuine, to some; imitation, to others --- but Arthur Miller was first and foremost a chronicler of the Male Mid-Life Crisis, beginning with ALL MY SONS, scaling the heights with DEATH OF A SALESMAN, varying his theme in THE CRUCIBLE, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, AFTER THE FALL and THE PRICE and winding down with THE RIDE DOWN MOUNT MORGAN, now at the Quannapowitt Players: Lyman Felt, a successful businessman, suffers an accident while driving down Mount Morgan; two women, Theo and Leah, rush to his bedside only to discover that they are both married to him --- Lyman, after years of deception(s), must now come clean with his loved ones as well as with himself. Like Willy Loman, Lyman is a two-timer and easily passes through memory and reality; whereas Willy is clueless, Lyman plays ringmaster in his own circus --- thus, THE RIDE DOWN MOUNT MORGAN is a vehicle for a charismatic actor and the director’s main duty is to channel said charisma into the rest of the production.

The Qunnapowitt production, overall, is a gentle, snowy affair due to Jackson Royal’s Lyman and director Andrea Butler seems content --- resigned? --- to let Mr. Royal do his gentle, snowy thing. I could easily say that Mr. Royal has no fire in his belly but fire doesn’t seem to be part of his make-up; rather, Mr. Royal’s strength lies in his dignity and he would make a greater impact in supporting roles where he can display an elder’s presence, as he did in the Súgán's SANCTUARY LAMP, two seasons ago. Still, Mr. Royal does gather force whenever Lyman is confined to his bed, and he can roar when he has to (if you can imagine an owl, roaring), but this is definitely Miller Lite.

In contrast, Ms. Butler stokes Christine Connor (Theo) and Susan Condit Rice (Leah) into becoming raging furnaces and how they glow whenever Mr. Royal is away! (Amazing how Mr. Miller’s shrews and nags are often brought to vibrant life by his actresses.) Since acting is the art of reacting, the Mss. Connor and Rice’s love scenes and confrontations with Mr. Royal become touching studies of two women in love with an aging boy in a candy shoppe --- how would they have reacted to a fellow-furnace, such as Jeff Gill? Yawa Duse-Anthony as the nurse, Kate Lovell as the daughter and Robert Evans as the attorney-friend have little to do but make supporting-character sounds but they make them, nicely, and Jon Sachs’ slide projections become fussier and fuzzier as the evening wears on, though his first slide (which goes SPLAT!) is a stunner.

"Ride Down Mount Morgan" (20 April - 5 May)
55 Hopkins Street, Reading, MA
1 (781) 942-2212

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide