After the Fall
Miller always claimed that his 1964 midlife-crisis play wasn’t autobiographical, but come on. Everything that happens to its main character—like Miller, a long-winded champion of social justice—also happened to his creator: parents bankrupted by the Depression; friends felled by a Communist witch hunt; two failed marriages, one of them to a troubled sex symbol. About all that Miller changed were names and occupations: real-life wife Marilyn Monroe becomes a singer named Maggie, Miller a lawyer named Quentin.
When the play first appeared, several critics found its dirty-laundry airing distasteful. But the play’s real problem is that Miller doesn’t transmute his sorrows into art; he turns them into three hours of self-justification. It boils down to this: Quentin feels guilty about the past, but when you look at it, no one’s really innocent, so why don’t we all get off his back?
Scott’s staging for Eclipse, the second production in a season dedicated to Miller’s work, captures the murky fluidity of memory but fails to enliven its tiresome main character. Swift’s Quentin is as detached as Miller wrote him—forever explaining himself to the audience instead of engaging with the other people onstage. The remarkable thing here is that the women in the cast do manage to draw credible human beings from characters Miller almost uniformly depicts as harridans and nutcases. Monts-Bologna brings an earthy playfulness to the small role of Quentin’s ball-busting mother. And as Maggie, Fiffer deftly strikes a sympathetic balance between “Little Girl Blue” and raging bitch.