Mr. Peters' Connections | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Mr. Peters' Connections 

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MR. PETERS' CONNECTIONS, Raven Theatre. Judging by this 1998 rumination on death and the meaning of life, Arthur Miller has fallen into the twilight of his career. Abandoning portraits of America in favor of individual biography, he offers just enough moments of clarity and snatches of keen dialogue to sketch the outline of his former greatness.

Miller's warts-and-all rendering of his dramatic stand-in, retired airline pilot Harry Peters, has modest merits as the man recalls and reflects on his life. And the playwright supplies an appropriately lurid, thinly veiled depiction of Marilyn Monroe as a blond ingenue who can't keep her underpants on. But this chronicle of Harry's personal failures remains as frustratingly empty as the play's setting, a deserted nightclub. Fortunately director Frank Merle and his talented ensemble give Miller's underwritten supporting characters--a homeless woman, a young couple, a brusque bartender--three dimensions. And once Michael Nowak settles into a comfortable rhythm, about a third of the way through the play, he manages to drum up some sympathy for the cynical, womanizing protagonist. It's disheartening, though, that the company's earnest, well-intentioned appreciation of the playwright must also act as an apology for this play's weaknesses.

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