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Review: Arthur Miller’s Epic Tale of the Great Depression at Old Vic

Review: Arthur Miller’s Epic Tale of the Great Depression at Old Vic

“The American Clock” is a play written by Arthur Miller, a vaudeville, as the dramatic show includes comedy, dancing, (exquisite) live music and a few more surprises. In 1980 this was a play that did not do well on Broadway disappointing the great Miller. But many were not surprised as it is a three-hour plot free docu-drama on stage, about the depression. This lesser known piece of work is based on Stud Terkel’s “Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression”.  In fact, the term vaudeville comes from the French expression voix de ville (Voice of the people). Image credit: Clarke Peters in The American Clock, The Old Vic. Photo by Manuel Harlan

Enter the visionary US Director Rachel Chavkin and the New York theatre company The TEAM have accomplished under Arthur Miller’s written directions: the superposition of the human race power against such adversities, time after time (tick, tock, tick, tock…).

Extraordinarily delivered in an ideal space such as the Old Vic, it is easy to be magically transported to such a historical-economic period (although unfortunately not the only one), where all sorts of struggling backgrounds and personalities are perfectly represented. And unfortunately, we cannot say that there is no relevance now, alas the uncertainty of Brexit, Trump, unemployment, the raise and fall of the pound and the dollar. A strong ensemble lead by renowned Clarke Peters, (The Wire) who narrates and plays multiple roles. Directed by Rachel Chavkin, known for musical Hadestown.

Set in an American society which is governed by race and class, the Baum family live a comfortable and wealthy life during the late 1920’s, but the dance floor confetti suddenly drops to the floor (tick, tock, tick, tock…). mother Rose, father Moe and son Lee unexpectantly find themselves forced to leave their Manhattan spacious home in order to move to their relatives’ in Brooklyn.

While getting to deeply know the Baum family  who start of being played by wealthy Jewish white immigrants then by South Asian actors and then Afro-American actors one starts realising that, during those dark years, despair was not limited to any one group of people. The American Clock arrives on the London stage making its stamp as a must-see political piece. Tick tock tick tock we are watching the Brexit clock. A bit of genius by Chavkin.

The crew

Director: Rachel Chavkin; Choreographer: Ann Yee; Set: Chloe Lamford; Costume: Rosie Elnile; Composer: Justin Ellington; Sound: Darron L West; Lighting: Natasha Chivers; Casting: Jessica Ronane CDG; Musical Director: Jim Henson; Voice Coach: Charlie Hughes D’Aeth; Dialect Coach: Penny Dyer; Baylis Associate Director: Julia Locascio; Associate Choreographer: Temitope Ajose-Cutting.

The cast

Amber Aga; Pau Bentall; Greg Bernstein; Clare Burt; Flora Dawson; Abhin Galeya; James Garnon; Fred Haig; Jyuddah Jaymes; Julie Jupp; Francesca Mills; Taheen Modak; Christian Patterson; Clarke Peters*; Sule Rimi*; Golda Rosheuvel; Abdul Salis; Ewan Wardrop

*Clarke Peters will appear in performances until 2nd of March and Sule Rimi in performances from 4th of March.

The musicians

Shaney Forbes; Jim Henson; James Mainwaring; Laurence Ungless

See Also

Old Vic

This 200-year-old building is currently being restored and upgraded thanks to the long-term plan OV Tomorrow. If you wish to donate, text OVTM19 £10 to 70070. If you wish further information, visit

Old Vic presents…  The American Clock. A Vaudeville  By Arthur Miller

04 February 2019 – 30 March 2019 Tickets from £10

Another play at The Old Vic by Miller

“All My Sons” is one of Arthur Miller’s greatest plays and released in 1947. This upcoming show is directed by Jeremy Herrin and you can catch it from the 13th of April until the 8th of June at The Old Vic. Tickets from £12. For more information, visit

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