The Dundee Rep Ensemble has had no small amount of success in tackling Arthur Miller’s work of late – its 2017 production of Death of a Salesman was a particular highpoint.
Now the Rep’s former artistic director Jemima Levick has returned to stage Miller’s 1947 breakthrough play, and has created a piece with poise, tense beauty and resonance.
The Keller family couldn’t be more middle class; amiable patriarch and successful business leader Joe (Barrie Hunter) sits out in his garden holding court, mother Kate (Irene Macdougall) fusses anxiously around, and handsome son Chris (Daniel Cahill) is the golden boy of the neighbourhood, despite his unwitting effect on the marriage of neighbours Jim (Antony Strachan) and Sue (Emily Winter).
Yet the arrival of young former neighbour Anne (Amy Kennedy) sets off a slow-moving chain reaction. She is the former sweetheart of the Keller’s other son Larry (missing in action since the war), yet she and Chris are falling for one another – and with the arrival of her vengeful brother George (Ewan Donald), a new level of intrigue opens up concerning Joe’s business dealings with their jailed father during the war.
Alex Lowde’s set is weirdly sparse, somehow resembling the forecourt of an upmarket garden centre, until some striking weather effects are revealed. With the break in the weather comes the crescendo of a compelling, perfectly-pitched riding of Miller’s dramatic wave, a sublime ensemble piece that thrills on a human level even as it draws out the play’s rich commentary on the nature of capitalism and intergenerational family angst.