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Resurrection Blues

Published Friday 3 March 2006 at 17:40 by Jeremy Austin

Remember Arthur Miller for Death of a Salesman, The Crucible and for The Price - don’t remember him for this lumbering, rambling half-finished effort.

There are flashes of brilliance, little turns of phrase and monologues, such as that by James Fox at the beginning of Act II, that manage to eclipse any other new writing that can currently be seen in the capital.

But for the most part Resurrection Blues is a mess, never really seeming to settle upon one theme or another. Did God create man or man create God? It begins to ask at one point, before failing to explore this satisfactorily.

Of course the hackneyed, well trodden idea: ‘If the crucifixion happened today, America would commercialise it’ is explored but, come on, from the man who compared McCarthyism to the Salem witch trials?

And what of the impotence of the Castro-like Barriaux, leader of the South American country in which this Jesus-like revolutionary appears? A comment on Miller’s own impotence as a writer in the final years of his life perhaps.

Neve Campbell, as the crippled disciple and niece of Barriaux, has good stagecraft, doing what is required of her, although somewhat fleeting in her appearance. Fellow Hollywood poster fare Matthew Modine also does the job as the all-American producer of the filming of the forthcoming crucifixion.

Highlights come from Jane Adams as Emily Shapiro, the commercials director with a conscience, and Peter McDonald as Stanley the stoner disciple. Although alongside the unrehearsed stutterings of Oscar-winner Maximilian Schell as Barriaux and Fox as his cousin Schultz, even the supporting cast looked decent.

Robert Altman’s direction descends into tableaux at times, but animates just as the eyeballs begin to lock into position.

Resurrection blues indeed.

Production information

Old Vic, London, February 14-April 22

Arthur Miller
Robert Altman
Old Vic Theatre Company and Scott Griffin
Cast includes:
Jane Adams, Neve Campbell, Peter McDonald, Matthew Modine, Maximilian Schell, James Fox
Running time:

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15 2014