REVIEW: The American Clock

2nd March 2019
The Old Vic Theatre

The American Clock depicts the struggles in America during the great depression of the 1930s, focusing predominantly on the Baum family – a family who are living the American Dream until they lose everything in the 1929 stock market crash. This is a show which is arguably more relevant today than when it first premiered in 1980. The confusion, panic and uncertainty is akin to some of that felt during the more recent 2008 financial crash.

It is the direction from Rachel Chavkin which ultimately makes this show, bringing as much as possible out of what is essentially a very limited script plot-wise.

Chavkin has the Baum family played by an ensemble of actors portraying a white Jewish family, a South Asian family and an African-American family to explore the changing face and diversity of America over the decades but equally this helps to further demonstrate the all-encompassing nature of the depression. Admittedly, the execution of this technique was sometimes patchy and confusing, particularly as every actor played more than one character, so it was not always clear who was who and the intended affect was not immediately apparent.

It was a 1984 production at the National Theatre which saw Arthur Miller include period music in the show – Chavkin has taken this score and has put it alongside more modern beats to create a production worthy of the vaudeville title attributed to this updated show by Miller.

The staging of this show really helped in creating the atmosphere of 1920s/30s America. With the musicians based on stage not only throughout the show but also before, it really helped to get the audience in the mood. I felt truly immersed in this world however, my opinion may be swayed by the fact that I was sat in the Stage Stalls (I am never one to turn down an opportunity to sit on a stage!).

The talent of this company should also not go unmentioned – Jessica Ronane has definitely done her job as casting director impeccably! Each and every one of the cast owned each and every one of their characters. Although, the stand out performance for me has to be from Golda Rosheuvel whose outstanding voice was just an absolute pleasure to listen to.

Confusion over character changes and the limited plot offered up by Arthur Miller’s script aside, as a whole, this show is definitely one worth going to see.

The American Clock is playing at The Old Vic Theatre until 30th March 2019 – visit for more info.

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