2015 marks the centenary of Arthur Miller's birth. Having spent much of his career writing about the human cost of chasing The American Dream, he was in his seventies when "The Last Yankee" first appeared on stage in 1991. The trademark moral fervour still burns as fiercely as ever, but this is a quieter, more poignant chamber piece, compared with the full-length plays that established his reputation.
Set in a New England state mental hospital, just as Prozac emerged as the US pharmaceutical industry's cure for depression, the play has just two scenes. In the first, two men meet in the hospital waiting room. Both are there to visit their wives, who are being treated inside. One is a successful businessman; the other is a carpenter (Miller famously relaxed by creating wooden furniture) and amateur banjo player. It is a stilted, awkward meeting, shot through with mistrust, prejudice, and embarrassment about why they are both there.
Then we go inside the hospital to meet their wives as they trade stories of their treatment, and the feelings that led them to seek it. When the husbands join them, all four reveal the cost of living up to the ambitions of others.