Ah, Wilderness! Explained
For other uses see Ah, Wilderness! (disambiguation).
|Setting:||The sitting room of the Miller home in a small town in Connecticut, July 4, 1906.|
|Premiere:||2 October 1933|
New York City
Ah, Wilderness! is a comedy by American playwright Eugene O'Neill that premiered on Broadway at the Guild Theatre on 2 October 1933.
The play takes place around the Fourth of July, 1906, and focuses on the Miller family, presumably of New London, Connecticut. The main plot deals with the middle son, 17-year-old Richard, and his coming of age.
The title derives from Quatrain XI of Edward Fitzgerald's translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, which is one of Richard's favorite poems.
- Nat Miller: The head of the Miller household and the owner of a local newspaper, Nat Miller, in his late fifties, is a warm, wise, and understanding man.
- Essie: Nat's wife, Essie Miller, is around fifty years old and the mother of four. She runs a well kept but lived-in house, in a “bustling, mother-of-a-family way.”
- Arthur: The oldest of the Miller children, Arthur is nineteen years old and a football linesman and student at Yale University. While home from college, he has been dating a girl named Elsie Rand.
- Richard: The second son of Nat and Essie, Richard is almost seventeen. He sees himself as a radical and a poet, although most of his words and actions are quite tame. He is in throes of first love, and is sure he loves Muriel McComber with a passion and depth that no one has experienced before.
- Mildred: The only daughter of Nat and Essie, Mildred is fifteen years old and considered attractive and vivacious. She is just old enough to be a great tease to her older brothers.
- Tommy: The youngest child in the Miller family, Tommy is eleven years old and bursting with energy.
- Sid Davis: Essie's forty-five year old brother, Sid is a gambler and an alcoholic. He was once engaged to Lily, who broke off the engagement because of his drinking and carousing.
- Lily Miller: Nat's forty-two year old sister, Lily is a schoolteacher who is unmarried and childless. “She conforms outwardly to the conventional type of old-maid school teacher.”
- David McComber: Muriel's father, David McComber he is a local businessman who advertises in Nat’s newspaper. He at first disapproves of Richard and Muriel’s relationship, but later accepts it. He is a “thin, dried-up little man.”
- Muriel McComber: The daughter of David McComber, Muriel is almost sixteen. She is a pretty girl who is in love with Richard.
- Wint Selby: A classmate of Arthur's at Yale, Wint is nineteen years old and a bit of a “hell-raiser.”
- Belle: Twenty years old, Belle is a pretty, peroxide-blonde prostitute.
- Nora: Mrs. Miller's Irish maid
Ah, Wilderness! was revived four times in on Broadway 1941, 1975, in 1988 with Jason Robards and Colleen Dewhurst, and again in 1991.
The story was also made into the 1959 Broadway musical Take Me Along starring Jackie Gleason as the drunken Uncle Sid (Beery's role in the film), Walter Pidgeon as Nat and Robert Morse as Richard. The production ran for 448 performances. Gleason won the 1960 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.
The play was made into a 1935 film of the same title and again in 1948 as the musical Summer Holiday, starring Mickey Rooney.
- Book: O'Neill, Eugene. Ah, Wilderness: A Comedy of Recollection in Three Acts. First. London. Samuel French. 1933. 70376389.