The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, Equity Library Theatre Chicago, at Breadline Theatre. The oversexed bigamist at the center of Arthur Miller's 1991 play, Lyman Felt, might be Willy Loman after a self-help workshop. A bastard for the ages, Felt is a ruthless, calculating salesman who justifies his transgressions by maintaining that "the first rule of life is betrayal." But the similarities between him and Loman end with the job and the affairs, just as the only similarity between The Ride Down Mt. Morgan and Miller's magnum opus Death of a Salesman is the playwright's favorite device, skewing times to blur the distinction between truth and lies. This uneven script seems an intensely personal rumination on Miller's own failed relationships and loss of sexual potency--and a disingenuous attempt to mask the playwright's insecurities with withering boudoir comedy.
Equity Library Theatre's production follows the ebb and flow of Miller's script precisely: director Virginia Smith's cast is sharp during the
expertly paced first act, though the performances drop off precipitously after intermission, when the writing grows turgid. Felt learns that he can't talk himself out of his moral dilemma, though Doug Smith's warm lighting design certainly helps thaw the proceedings. Still, it's clear from this production why it took more than a decade for The Ride Down Mt. Morgan to work its way to the midwest after its West End premiere; it's just too painful to watch our heroes fade away.