By 1982, it had been 30 years since a handful of plays had placed Arthur Miller atop the list of American dramatists and 20 years since divorce from a handful named Marilyn Monroe had ended five years atop America’s all-time female sex icon. On the one hand, Miller was looking to explore new forms of drama. On the other, he was haunted by the now-mythic image of an ex-wife who, 18 months after their marriage ended, had ended her life.
Those preoccupations form the ill-fitted hemispheres of Some Kind of Love Story, a one-act making its West Coast bow 26 years after Miller staged its premiere in New Haven. Michael Arabian directs the Hayworth Theatre production, which continues through August 31.
Miller has acknowledged his conscious motivation behind writing this play and its companion one-act, Elegy for a Lady. “[They] are of a different form than I’ve ever tried before,” he told Matthew Charles Roudané in 1983. “Some Kind of Love Story concerns the question of how we believe truth, how one is forced by circumstance to believe what you are only sure is not too easily demonstrated as false.”
Unfortunately, that explanation only confuses the issue. Not only is it an obvious verbatim transcript, which can make the best interviewee sound like Cheech or Chong, it sounds like a writer still fumbling after a phantom form. Not surprisingly, Arabian and his two-member cast – Beege Barkette as Angela and Jack Kehler as Tom – all seem to have been dumped without a map into the show’s apartment bedroom set (a surprisingly impersonal example of Prop Storage Chic by the usually resourceful John Iacovelli).
Miller’s experimenting has done little more than pull the rug out from under his actors and audience.
It’s the middle of a spring night in 1962, not coincidentally a few months before Monroe’s suicide. A distraught Angela, unmade-bed sexy despite a new shiner from a man who has just left, is awaiting the arrival of Tom, a 24-year NYPD veteran who became her lover while investigating a crime that she had witnessed. Tom still believes the case closed after an innocent man was convicted. He also thinks that Angela is hiding some fact that can free the wrongly imprisoned man.