The Ryan Interview
or How It Was Around Here
Arthur Miller's playlet takes a conventional
situation (centenarian interviewed by reporter, with the tics nowadays
associated with such a scene, cf. Little Big Man), and demonstrates how
much of a punch you can get into it with extremely fine writing. There are some
great jokes, and a very subtle way of working. For example, in the version
presented on the Peeb, Ryan commits the apparent faux pas of being
surprised at young Fredericka's femininity, in her position, though the female
reporter is a mainstay of films time nearly out of mind. But it develops that
he is a countryman with not much taste for town, so Miller is cranking up the
buggy from the get-go.
Though the direction may not encompass all the possibilities, Eddie Bracken (looking exactly like Ezra Pound) delivers a crackerjack performance, and Ashley Judd renders Fredericka very prettily.
Worse scores have no doubt been written, but this is one in the class of doleful solo piano and sham exaltation (orchestral) at the close. The Peeb offered this under its Regional Theater ęgis, American Shorts, which is illustrated by a picture of supernumeraries in short pants photographed from the waist down.
All in all, a poem of the century past, and a blessing on it.