Resurrection Blues (2002) is Arthur Miller's penultimate play. Though Miller was not known for his humor, this play uses a pointed comedic edge to intensify his observations about the dangers, as well as the benefits, of blind belief: political, religious, economic, emotional.
The story is set in an unnamed Latin American country that is painfully third world. The plot revolves around a captured prisoner who may or may not be the second coming of Christ, though Miller deliberately leaves the divinity of his unseen protagonist ambiguous. He is said to be able to perform miracles such as walk through walls, a major problem for the prison guards, and, because his popularity among the impoverished citizens, the military dictator of the nation has sentenced him to be crucified. This creates many moral dilemmas with the play's cast of characters, which include a wealthy land-owner who is the cousin of the dictator, his depressed daughter -- a close friend of the accused -- and an American television production team that arrives to broadcast the crucifixion.
The plot centers round six main charcters...
General Felix Barriaux - the dictator of the country who orders the crucifixtion. For a dictator, he is a poignant and witty character who holds some sympathy for the audience despite his obsession with money and power. He has been played by actors ranging from Munson Hicks to Maximilian Schell.
Henri Schultz - cousin to Felix and owns a large chain of pharmaceutical companies, but is reluctant to be a businessman and retires to teach philosophy. He once joined a revolutionary group to fight against Felix but it was unsucessful. Ironically there is still a familial bond of friendship between Felix and himself and he spends the play trying to dissuade Felix from the crucifixion. He has been played by James Fox and Patrick Husted.
Jeanine Schultz - daughter of Henri, she is a modern form of Mary Magdalen as she is in love with the man about to be crucified and opens the play having tried to commit sucide. She too was caught up with the revolution but when her father gave up, she held on to the spirit her comrades were shot by Felix when they were captured, but she was spared. She has been played by Patricia Ageheim and Neve Campbell.
Skip L. Cheesboro - the producer of the American television special that is to made about the crucifixion. He is a no-nonsense man who, in his own words, admits that "some of us have to be shallow so others can be deep." He has been played by Doug Wert and Matthew Modine.
Emily Shapiro - the TV special's director who is, at the beginning of the play, unaware of the crucifixion. It is suggested that a relationship with Skip may of existed but when she finds out about the crucifxion, she is shocked and repulsed by Skip for even suggesting filming it. She then has a relationship with Felix whom she begs to call off the crucifixion. She is seen to be the voice of reason within the play and has been played by Gretchen Egolf and Jane Adams.
Stanley - a disciple to the prisoner and is interrogated by Felix when he escapes. A self-proclaimed hippie, he addresses the approachability of 'Christ' saying that he himself in unsure whether he is Christ or not. He produces a lot of wit at the same time as introducing new ideas. He has been played by Douglas Rees and Peter McDonald.
Other charcters include filming crew, an ever presence of the military and the captain of the police whom is respectful of Henri Schultz because of his wealth.
Resurrection Blues originally premiered August 9th, 2002 at Minneapolis' Guthrie Theater under the artistic direction of Joe Dowling. This world premiere was directed by Minnesota native, David Esbjornson, and featured a cast reflective of the theater's prestigious and artistic history. Arthur Miller himself helped choose the Guthrie Theater for the play's debut, citing the quality of its audiences and the outdatedness of premiering a play on broadway. While not the final product, as Miller continued to work on the script up until his death in 2005, the Minneapolis production of Resurrection Blues fared far better than the current Old Vic production.
It's UK premier was in 2006 under the artistic direction of Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic. The play was directed by veteran film director Robert Altman. Echoing much of Spacey's reign at the Old Vic, it suffered mass critism despite boasting a famous cast including James Fox, Maximilian Schell and Neve Campbell. It was forced to close early especially after the actress playing Emily (the Americain film director) pulled out of the performances. Spacey has been quoted to say that the cast suffered from nerves "the likes of which I have never seen before" many remain admant however that it was a wonderful (if short) run.
Arthur Miller A View from the Bridge The Crucible Death of a Salesman