Theater J’s production of Arthur Miller’s After The Fall is a heartfelt, powerful and emotional tribute to the playwright, Arthur Miller. Although not as popular as his other plays The Crucible and/or Death of a Salesman, After the Fall is traditionally recognized as an autobiographical depiction of Miller’s own life (although in 1964 he protested this), personal associations, and political affiliations in the aftermath of the Holocaust, the menace of the Red Scare, and the destructive McCarthy Hearings.
José Carrasquillo directs a riveting cast. The action is focused inside the mind of Quentin, (Michael Hébert) not in a linear mode, but in a stream of consciousness style where characters come and go as they appear in his thoughts. Speaking directly to the audience, Quentin examines his life with his dominating mother and overbearing wife, Louise, both played effectively and powerfully by Kimberly Schraf. He relives the tragic suicide of his ‘out of control’ second wife, Maggie, played with naiveté and vulnerability by Gabriela Fernández-Coffey (very Marilyn Monroe-like). And then there is Quentin’s final liaison is with Holga (Jennifer Mendenhall) – a soft-spoken Austrian architect with whom he sees hope for a brighter future. He learns of the betrayal of his friend, Mickey (Tim Getman) at the McCarthy hearings (Is he director Elia Kazan who cooperated and named names?) and watches as Mickey’s testimony is about to destroy one of his mentors – Lou – (Stephen Patrick Martin).
Quenton is a demanding and challenging role for an actor, both physically and emotionally, but it is an exciting enterprise, and Mitchell Hebért is up to the task. Here he portrays a man who is tightly wound and always in control, as his impeccable three-piece suit and polished shoes provided by Costume Designer Ivania Stack -convey. A skilled and talented actor, Mr. Hébert reveals the depth of Quentin’s personal and emotional responses to life.
José Carrasquillio sets the play in a New York airport. This is most effective in providing an impersonal background to the very personal and painful revelations in the play. Scenic Designer Tony Cisek and Lighting Designer Dan Covey use stone and concrete with dark and shaded effects – reflecting a starkness of the pain endured by the characters in those tragic times.
The supporting cast including Dana Levanovsky, Kerry Waters Lucas and Joe Brack set a rhythm and pace through their passionate characterizations.
Theater J’s thought-provoking After the Fall needs to be seen.
Running time: Two hours and forty five minutes, including one fifteen minute intermission.
After the Fall plays through November 27, 2011, at Theater J in the DC Jewish Community Center’s Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater – 1529 16th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. Purchase tickets online, or by calling (800) 494-TIXS (8497).