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The Man Who Had All the Luck

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THE MAN WHO HAD ALL THE LUCK, Raven Theatre. Arthur Miller's first professionally produced play opened in 1944 when he was only 29 years old; it closed two days later, after receiving indifferent to blistering reviews. Watching Michael Menendian's lean, elegant production, it's hard to understand why so few critics recognized the potential in the playwright's cliche-free dialogue and fully realized characters.

True, the script lacks the urgency of Miller's best work, in part because he tries to tell too many stories, getting sidetracked by the cynics, sad sacks, and losers who surround his callow, fortunate protagonist. The play revolves around what it means to be lucky, but Miller approaches his theme from an unusual angle: instead of a character whose luck has run cold, we get someone pulled out of adversity by his almost supernatural good fortune.

Miller's critique of our success-driven American culture--richly evident in All My Sons and Death of a Salesman--is buried here. Menendian wisely emphasizes the play's darkness by lingering over the characters who don't have any luck and underscoring the moments when it seems that his hero--the aptly named David (played with grace and power by Jeremy Glickstein)--might finally be overcome by one of life's many Goliaths.

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