All My Sons is a powerful story about family loyalty, corporate
responsibility, love, betrayal and society. It is set in a small American
town, post WWII. Joe Keller runs a successful industrial manufacturing
company that provided parts for the air force while his own sons were
serving in the war. One of the sons goes missing, and his mother Kate
desperately needs to believe that her missing son is returning one day.
Chris, who came back from the war, is ready to head-up the family business
and wishes to propose to Ann, the sweetheart of his missing brother, whom
he has invited to visit the family home.
All My Sons was the first great success of Arthur Millers influential
career, winning the Drama Critics Circle award. This play is an excellent
vehicle for good acting, so before we even see the performance we have
high expectations. One of the great things about theatre is that when
you go to see a play the experience starts from the moment you enter the
reception, and in this case it bears mentioning that the staff at Pegasus
are friendly and cheerful, and once you enter the theatre you know you
are about to see a show where everyone is taking care to do their part
and do it well. Its that people aspect that separates
theatre from just going to see a movie.
The set takes you right into the world of the Kellers, built as it is
around the destruction of a peaceful facade. Neighbours share a peaceful
moment reading the morning newspaper while there is debris and a broken
apple tree on the lawn from the storm the night before. The music creates
an atmosphere of somehow ominous calm, and the lighting effectively changes
the tone of each scene. The set is meticulously crafted, and there is
nothing here without purpose: you even strain to see the photographs behind
the screen door.
This is a play about universal themes: Once and for all you must
know that theres a universe of people outside, and youre responsible
to it. Its relevant today after the recent Iraq war: do we
put our family first, our country first, or the world? Who are we fighting
for? This is an intense play, and the theatre is hot (tip: wear a t-shirt
or youll be sorry), but during intermission everyone looked relaxed
and stood about discussing the performance.
This production is an excellent ensemble performance; here, you have the
rare chance to really forget that youre a member of the audience
as you feel the characters torment and become caught up in their
world. Every actor has the opportunity to have their moment on stage,
and they all deliver, conveying the full complexity of each character.
Rachel OConnor gives an outstanding performance as Kate Keller.
You feel her struggle as a mother and wife, wanting whats right
in the world. Luke Smith as Joe Keller is also excellent, though you might
not have believed him to be a 61-year-old man (but there must of course
be a little leeway given in this direction when watching a student production).
In the second act he is simply brilliant, with an explosively powerful
delivery: if you pay attention you can actually feel the sound hit you!
Robert Fried the director develops Arthur Millers text carefully,
bringing it alive whilst allowing the characters to develop fully and
the audience to become absorbed in their emotions.
This classic piece of modern theatre is a great watch, and with a professional,
even performance by the entire cast from Oxford School of Drama, its
a great night out at the theatre.
Rebekah Roy, 10.06.03