Arthur Miller’s latest work at Goodman

Arthur Miller continues a long career with Finishing the Picture, a thinly disguised version of Marilyn Monroe’s movie, The Misfits. Kitty (Heather Prete), the seldom-seen star, suffers a myriad of symptoms. In constant attendance is her secretary—nurse—confidant, Edna (Frances Fisher). Communication with the outer world comes through Flora (Linda Lavin). She and husband Jerome (Stephen Lang) are world-renowned teachers of drama and control Kitty as if she were a puppet.

Attempting to complete a film that has become a fiasco are Terry, the cameraman (Scott Glenn); Derek, the director (Harris Yulin); and Philip, the producer (Stacy Keach). Matthew Modine is Kitty’s husband and the film writer. A rather bland character, he is completely incapable of dealing with his mad wife.

The reality of the plot, its setting in the artificiality of a Nevada hotel, and historical accuracy make Finishing the Picture more a segment from Miller’s personal journal than a piece from an imaginative playwright. Critics have not always been kind to Miller. Much of his work—Death of a Salesman, All My Sons, and The Crucible—have become theater classics. His ability to portray the weakness of the American dream unsettles many. This aspect of his work may be what bothers his detractors.

A star-studded cast displays its professionalism, and Robert Falls directs with his typical aplomb. The Goodman Theatre is renowned for its selection of material for world premieres. Adding to recent successes, Finishing the Picture may make a transition to Broadway. It will be interesting to see its acceptance or rejection by New York audiences. Closing Nov. 7, order tickets at (312) 443-3800.

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