In Ashfield, We Took a Trip Back to the 1930s

Ashfield Community Theater's An American Clock
Ashfield Community Theater’s An American Clock

I took a trip back in time last night–it was the 1930s and the huge cast of Arthur Miller’s “The American Clock” sang and spoke in the manner of this faraway decade when the country faced the Great Depression. The show continues Saturday night June 2 at the Ashfield Town Hall.

Based on the work of Studs Terkel, who was famous for chronicling the lives and words of the American worker, the story followed the ups and downs of a series of characters and families who have all seen their fortunes fall with the plunge of the market. There was rich family named Baum, who suddenly weren’t any more, a down and out prostitute looking to barter for dental work, and a man who dreamed of success on Tin Pan Alley.

With a cast of 19 actors, they were able to gather up crowds of police officers, and sing rousing versions of old familiar songs, corny songs like Pennies from Heaven, from long ago. Notable was the quality of the piano playing and the singing, remarkable for a community theater.

It was an entertaining show that was just a bit longer than I would have liked…and the addition of a recitation of recent wars that America has been involved with was certainly not written by Miller in 1980. This awkward addition marred the time travel effect–who is thinking about Iraq when there’s a depression going on?