Play – ‘The American Clock’, The Old Vic, 4th March 2019

Two Arthur Miller plays in one week? Yes indeed. Not really planned, just one of those strange coincidences. What a shame that they weren’t both up to the same high standard.

Since I’ve already written a glowing review of the previous one, that’s probably already given away that I wasn’t a massive fan of this one. First of all, it’s LONG. 3 solid hours, a testing length for even the best of plays. And I certainly wouldn’t describe this as ‘the best of plays’. It has a good premise- telling the story of the Wall Street Crash and the subsequent Depression, and it’s fascinating to see the different stories being played out. I particularly liked the bit where the girl whose family owns an apartment house becomes popular as everyone wants access to somewhere to live; not to mention the most incisive line in the whole 3 hours, when a black man points out, ‘the Depression only became important when it started affecting white people’.

The staging deserves a mention- played out almost in the round and with live jazz music accompanying some scenes, it showed what the Old Vic does best in innovative theatre.

But. On the whole, I just found it confusing. I didn’t like the use of 3 different sets of actors/actresses to play the main family and I found it really odd how the story jumped around from one thing to another. I was left feeling sad, confused but not with a huge amount of understanding about the Depression.

Overall: Could have been better; a LOT better.

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