All My Sons
Star rating: ***
Directed by Michael Buffong, Artistic Director of Talawa Theatre Company
Easter Saturday 4th April 2015
Joe and Kate Keller, an all American couple, are living with the ghosts of World War II. All My Sons is a searing investigation of honesty, guilt and the corrupting power of greed. The play was Arthur Miller’s first success, establishing him as leading voice in theatre.
Beneath the veneer of a very middle-class American neighbourhood and family lies a dark secret. In a somewhat slow moving Act I the play introduces the various characters and hints at this mysterious, dark secret behind the death of the late Larry Keller, brother of Chris Keller. Their mother Kate (played by Dona Croll) harbours hope that he might still be alive – 3 years after he is believed to have perished fighting in World War II. No-one else is holding out hope but her.
You get the sense that all is not as it should be with his “death” for the neighbourhood astrologer said the day he was supposed to have passed away was a favourable day for him … so really nothing untoward should have happened.
I enjoyed the play, but if you were unaware of the storyline prior to watching the play you could have been very puzzled by proceedings. That was certainly the view of some audience members I spoke to during the interval.
The second act picked up the place a lot as the story built to a crescendo and dramatic denouement. As that happens, the tension is clearly brewing and being stoked between father and son; mother and son, father and mother; Larry’s ex-fiance Ann and Chris and between many of the characters. Some seem to know something went badly awry. Others are completely in the dark.
As indicated in the show promotional text at the top of this review, the play does look at honesty, guilt and greed; putting profit before family and people’s lives. However that’s done very so subtly and isn’t really actually tackled in the play itself that much, for it’s only via the denouement that you realise what has happened and the assumed reasons for that.
This was an extremely interesting, watchable and very well acted drama from Talawa Theatre Company. The set design was superb and classy in keeping with the beautiful Richmond theatre.
All My Sons is at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester and the Malvern Theatres in April 2015. Further information and tickets
Review © Tiemo Talk of the Town and photograph © Pamela Raith