BWW Reviews: St. Louis Actors' Studio's Intriguing Production of THE RIDE DOWN MOUNT MORGAN
While The Ride Down Mount Morgan might not be considered one of playwright Arthur Miller's best works, there is still plenty to chew on here. The subject matter, bigamy, is certainly a touchy one, but what makes it even more so is the way it's handled. The St. Louis Actors' Studio has assembled a fine cast to bring this interesting, and surprisingly amusing, piece to life, and the direction is top notch as well. And, while I don't necessarily agree with Miller's point of view as expressed by the lead character (Lyman Felt), it's an intriguing argument that's sure to spark debate, and that's what good theatre does.
Hospitalized after a nasty car crash on a slick mountain road, Lyman Felt's double life comes to the fore when his wife of 30 years, and his other wife of 9 years, show up. Confronted with his act of bigamy, Lyman reasons that he has given both women a better life than if he could have had he remained monogamous with either one of them. In his own mind he's convinced he's following the correct path by being true to his nature.
John Pierson gives another terrific performance as Lyman. You may not agree with his choices, but it's hard to argue with his logical assertions. Julie Layton is sharp as Leah, Lyman's second wife, and there are hints that she may have had her own dalliances. Amy Loui is solid as Theo, Lyman's more refined first wife. Both express their indignation and anger over the situation as one would expect. Eric Dean White is very good as one of Lyman's friends, and his shock at Lyman's arrogant declarations definitely rings true. Taylor Steward (as his daughter Bessie) and Fannie Lebby (as his nurse) round out the supporting cast quite nicely.
Director Bobby Miller mines the text for both drama and humor, and he does superb work with this great cast, as well as couple of bizarre fantasy sequences. Scenic designer Cristie Johnson manages to create various locales with deceptive simplicity. Bess Moynihan's lighting scheme blankets the stage in moody shadows, and Teresa Doggett provides costumes which neatly act to delineate each character.
The St. Louis Actors' Studio has once again provided us with the opportunity to view the work of a master, even if this play doesn't rise to the heights of some of Miller's other more celebrated plays. The Ride Down Mount Morgan has been given its due with this exceptional production, and it continues at the Gaslight Theatre through February 2, 2014.