Written by Arthur Miller and Directed by Amelia Mulkey
Presented by Ruskin Theatre Group
Punch in. Punch out. Do the work, do your time, wait for the weekend. Sound familiar? In a time long before Dilbert, cubicle monkeys, and a life-sucking recession, Arthur Miller was musing on all these things and more. Oh, so much more.
Miller’s one-act play, A Memory of Two Mondays, (originally presented in 1955) is currently at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica. Set in the Thirties, in Brooklyn, in an old and dusty auto parts warehouse, the play begins during the Great Depression and just as Hitler comes to power in Germany. Quite often in small theatre the set is minimal at best because the budgets just don’t allow it. I doubt that this production’s budget allowed it either yet as the audience filled the Ruskin, we were treated to music and a rich, detailed, well thought out set created by Set Designer Cliff Wagner, Lighting Designer Mike Reilly (also one of the producers), and Scene Painter Karen Landry. We were in the mood.
The story’s central character is a parts clerk named Bert, sweetly played by Lane Compton. He’s a young man with big aspirations and a dream to get an education, saving 80% of his wages to cover the ultimate costs of college at an indeterminate time. Thus are the book-ending two Mondays of the title—the day when the story begins and the Monday a year or so later when it is Bert’s last day. He reads The New York Times and War and Peace, and is just about the only one in this group who understands why he should. This detail alone goes to explain the mild manic/depression that all endure in this mechanical work environment, why most will stay far too long at such great cost. What differences are there in these two Mondays and what things stay the same?
The other characters are not your standard formulaic stereotypes, either. There’s Kenneth, the uplifting Irish parts shipper played by Nick Cimiluca who sings and spouts Walt Whitman. Gus, the oldest employee of the group and played by Richard Leighton, is proud, lewd, private—and a big softie. There’s an affair going on, alcoholism, fear of the Boss, laughter, lunch, and that weird sense of family you only get with your co-workers. This is Arthur Miller taking us on the journey between these two Mondays, not some insipid sitcom, and Director Amelia Mulkey does her job with deft and deference. The other members of the large cast, all stellar, are Jason Paul Field as Larry, Conor Walshe as Tom, Gregory G. Giles as Raymond, Lynn Wanlass as Agnes, Julia McIlvaine as Patricia, Paul Denk as Jim, Jeison Azali as Frank, Timothy George Connolly as Jerry, Val Masouris as Willy, Hamilton Matthews as a mechanic and Billy Ensley as the boss, Mr. Eagle.
The Ruskin is right next to the Santa Monica Airport and they have a busy calendar of varied and fresh material. There’s so much quality small theatre in L.A. and it’s especially nice to have this sort of over-the-top quality over here on the west side; the Ruskin Group should be lauded and supported and thanked profusely for their efforts. (Thank you, as well, for not making me drive an hour east to SMB every time I want to see something.)
A Memory of Two Mondays makes a weekend performance worth looking forward to. Make your ticket reservations by calling 310-397-3244 or going online here.
Please call the theatre for handicap seating capabilities for a specific evening’s performance.
The theatre has concessions.
Now through July 30
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 p.m.
There will be no evening performance on Sunday, July 3
Running time is about 75 minutes with no intermission
$20 for Students, Seniors and Guild Members
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