Arthur Miller by Neil Carson (auth.)

By Neil Carson (auth.)

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While it proved popular at the box-office and extra performances were scheduled by the company, many critics were outraged by what they considered to be Miller's self-justifying presentation of his relationship with Marilyn Monroe. Although the dramatist stoutly denied that the play was any more autobiographical than his other work, the general perception was that the scenes between Quentin and Maggie were almost embarrassingly documentary. This public display of a private quarrel (as it was generally regarded), questionable enough at any time, seemed to many to be particularly tasteless in view of the relatively recent and widely publicised suicide of the popular actress.

It ran for 425 performances in New York after which it transferred to London where it ran for another year. In the decade or so since the success of The Price, Miller has seen his American reputation begin to decline while his international stature appears to be on the rise. This paradox is partly a result of the fact that foreign audiences were sometimes slow to see the universal relevance of plays that appeared at first quintessentially American. It is also a consequence of the inflationary conditions on Broadway which make the New York commercial stage more and more hostile to serious drama.

Once again Marilyn's nerves made her unreliable at work and Miller was forced to sit with her through countless sleepless nights, and to oversee her intake of medication until he himself was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. When the film was finally finished, the couple returned to New York on separate planes and Marilyn announced their plans to begin living apart. In January 1961, she obtained a divorce in Juarez, Mexico. (ii) There is little doubt that the failure of his marriage profoundly affected Miller.

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