The Last Yankee

Previewed 21 January 1993, Opened 26 January 1993, Closed 17 April 1993 at the Young Vic
Previewed 20 April 1993, Opened 4 May 1993, Closed 11 September 1993 at the Duke of York's Theatre

A major production of Arthur Miller's new play The Last Yankee in London directed by David Thacker - transferring to London's West End following an extended season at the Yong Vic Theatre

Set on the wards of an American mental hospital, The Last Yankee examines the troubled marriages of two patients, Patricia Hamilton and Karen Frick who are both being treated for depression. Patricia's husband Leroy finds dignity in manual labour as a carpenter and, as the father of seven children, places great importance on family life. The childless John Frick is a successful businessman who is bemused by Leroy's ethos. A dark, thoughtful exploration of American society.

The cast features Peter Davison as 'Leroy Hamilton', Margot Leicester as 'Patricia Hamilton', David Healy as 'John Frick' and Helen Burns as 'Karen Frick' with Bethany Hanson as 'a Patient'. ZoŽ Wanamaker played the role of 'Patricia Hamilton' up to 27 March 1993. Directed by David Thacker with sets by Shelagh Keegan, costumes by Helen Skillicorn, lighting by Jim Simmons and sound by Paul Anderson. Arthur Miller's other plays recently seen in London's West End include All My Sons, Broken Glass, The Crucible, Death of a Salesman, The Price and A View From The Bridge.

"Arthur Miller's latest play transfers here after an extended run of capacity houses at the Young Vic and, as so often in his long creative career, he writes of the souring of the American Dream for average small town people. Disappointment is the play's key word. Life for his characters has not turned out as expected. To be precise, life has not turned out to be as successful and satisfying as they had been taught to expect by that unwritten but implicit clause in the Constitution, stating that Americans possess the right to be financially successful and therefore happy. This inalienable right alienates all who fail, and many who succeed as well... David Thacker's finely paced production... the effect of watching these troubled lives is far from dispiriting. Margot Leicester's restlessly jittery Pat overcomes her rancour to encourage the crushed, tubby Karen to indulge her unexpected hobby, tap-dancing. Looking awkward, if brave, in her black silk hat and tails, Karen's dancing enrages her embarrassed husband, but it is infinitely touching. This attempt at fulfilment may fail, but it leads towards the sense of hope that is present when the play ends. In its plea to live in the now, acknowledging yet breaking free of a damaging past, his play is a short but potent coda to a lifetime of social concern." The Times

"A superbly acted production by David Thacker... built round hospital-visiting (hospital beds being to late Miller what dustbins were to Beckett), but the play itself is in hearteningly healthy shape. Set in a mental institution, it focuses its wryly probing attention on two female depressives and their husbands: Leroy, the Yankee of the title, who comes from old Founding Fathers stock but has chosen to be a carpenter, and Frick, a beefy businessman unable to communicate anything but disappointment and shame to his dumpy, doe-eyed wife, Karen... Pat has secretly weaned herself off medication. Could a woman trashing her pills and going off to face undrugged reality with her husband be seen as a metaphor for contemporary America as it shakes off the chimera of conservative ideology?... People who believe that their depressiveness is a chemical condition and as treatable an illness as, say, diabetes may take exception to its being used as the emblem of a murkier malaise of the spirit. And the handling, throughout, of poor confused Karen could be accused of wanting it both ways: encouraging laughter at and sympathy for. The dialogue, though, is full of crackly delights." The Independent

"At the age of 77, when most dramatists are either dead, silent or in decline, Arthur Miller has written a fine and moving play: The Last Yankee. Like all Miller's best work, it effortlessly links private and public worlds by connecting personal desperation to insane American values. It's a short play - 80 minutes - but it packs in a lot. Two husbands are visiting their wives in a state mental hospital. Leroy Hamilton, the last Yankee of the title, is an obstinately independent jobbing carpenter; his wife Patricia is a depressive. John Frick is a thriving businessman; his spouse, Karen, is a solitary for whom tap-dancing offers escape. Miller's focus is chiefly on the Hamiltons; and his main point is that equilibrium can be achieved only by rejecting everything that has turned the American Dream, with its belief in equality for all, into a shoddy triumphalism. What makes this a first-rate play is that Miller allows the ideas to grow from the characters... David Thacker also directs the play, staged on a frosted-glass set by Shelagh Keegan, with scrupulous attention to emotional nuance." The Guardian

The Last Yankee in London at the Duke of York's Theatre previewed from 20 April 1993, opened on 4 May 1993 and closed on 11 September 1993