Chichester Festival Theatre’s first-ever Arthur Miller production
and live on Freeview channel 276
A co-production with Headlong, Octagon Theatre Bolton and Rose Theatre, it will be at the CFT from Friday, October 6-Saturday, October 28, with Jonathan Slinger (Crave at Chichester 2020) taking the part of Eddie.
“It's great,” says Jonathan. “With the three theatres involved it is not like a traditional tour, and each venue throws up different technical challenges. They are all not to a degree your traditional proscenium arch theatres. They all have some degree of thrust . We're starting in the most intimate space and when we get to Chichester it will be the most cavernous.
“I'm amazed that Chichester has not done Arthur Miller before because of all the great classical stuff that they have done but it is my Miller debut as well. I think what I like about him is that he tackles subjects that are universal, that you can really relate to regardless of the period or place or type of demographic you are. He writes about things that transcend race and age and sexuality even though it is set at a very specific time which is kind of what the most amazing dramatists always do but I do think in this play he is very prescient about immigration. That's a really big subject in this play and he talks very much about the difficulties of immigration, coming to a country and setting up a new life. The environment that the play is set in is an early enclave for the Italians coming to America just after the war and you see the need that some of these communities feel to create their own very close-knit community because of the dangers. They are forced back on themselves to an extent but we actually did a lot of research into this and one of the things that came out of that that I was not aware of before is that there is a very, very strong belief in the healthiness of family life and small communities. There's actually empirical evidence which points to the fact that if you grow up in a very small community, life expectancy is longer and you live more healthily. And that kind of makes sense. But that argument does not get aired enough. You get ideas that people coming across just don't want to integrate and there's an antagonistic approach but if you look at the scientific evidence, a tight-knit community is more healthy and longer lived.
“Eddie (in the play) is very much an Everyman and someone that a lot of people can really relate to. It is not just the metropolitan artistic elite. Eddie represents the manual labourer. He is a middle-aged man probably too old to be doing the job that he is doing but he's just never been encouraged to develop anything else in his life. He lives with his wife and his niece and they have created this family network, albeit it non-traditional, that seems to work extremely well. The trouble starts to emerge when relatives of his wife arrive…”