On the 6th of March, Burntwood students relive the fortunes, broken lives and trauma in the built atmosphere of New York City in 1929, where the stock market crashed and changed everything. Through jazz and dance, the story of the Baum family unravels before the audience as they struggle to keep their solidarity and most importantly their money.

Visionary director, Rachel Chavkin presents Arthur Miller’s narrative about “hope, idealism and the nation’s unwavering faith in capitalism.” With reviews like, “Chavkin’s production is ingenious” from The Observer.

The play started through song and dance, with the pulsing music of the 1920’s and people dancing along happily to the beat of it, unaware of the struggles to come to them. Effectively, the dance introduced the characters to the play, all three versions of the Baum family- the three main races- this then presents to the audience how each class and race would face the situation. The use of multi-rolling also helped as the other characters acted as sub-text or the characters subconscious even. The Baum family consisting of: Moe(father), Rose(mother) and Lee(son) Baum.

In the American Clock, the play studies the effects of the stock market crash on American society and how everyone had become desperate to gain money in order to survive after all their money disappears. How people would do anything just to earn little cash for their family- even if it’s dancing for days straight and no stopping. The dance marathons are shown beautifully, actors slumping onto each other, trying to hold each other up to earn the cash prize after days of dancing to different categories/genres. “For them the clock would never strike midnight, the dance and the music could never stop…”

The upbeat swing and jazz, juxtaposes the society of that time, of the Great Depression- of which the play single-handedly manifests. Consequently, the music ultimately becomes the backbone of the play, whenever there seems to be an unsettling scene the music somehow brightens the mood, and keeps the audience on the edge of their seat, being intrigued by all the movements on stage.

What interests me is that “The American Clock” has come to theatre at times where it has come apparent that the society may face similar situations in the near future and that us as a society, need to be able to be ready for whatever comes. The story helps us understand the steps we need to take to not easily delve into the midst of people losing their money.

One particular scene is captivating as Moe and Lee Baum are at the support centre, they come across a man who cries about his losses, “Where is my money? My fourteen years of savings? Where is my money?” he screams. The scene is followed by a representation of someone jumping in front of a train, in which we know that the struggles end up being so unbearable that they are having to take their own life.

The show has received countless reviews and comments on the production such as from the Sunday Express: “The play feels alarmingly prescient.” And from The Times, “Surprising, specific, funny” which would describe the show completely in those three words.

The Old Vic are hosting the show until the end of March 2019 and I strongly encourage that tickets are to be bought and witness the story of the Great Depression and how the American Clock seems to never stop. You can purchase tickets here: https://www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2019/the-american-clock as well looking out for many other productions hosted by the Old Vic Theatre.