Monthly Archive for: ‘August, 2012’
ALL MY SONS: Drama by Arthur Miller, directed by Dennis Lickteig. Masquers Playhouse, Highway 580 (Richmond Parkway exit) at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond across from the Hotel Mac. www.masquers.org or (510) 232-4031 August 24 – September 29, 2012.
Arthur Miller’s ALL OF MY SONS holds up very well at the Masquers Theatre
Many of us sometime have surely wondered the consequences of ‘what if’ a series of events had or had not occurred. In the case of Arthur Miller one could wonder ‘what if’ his 1941 play All of My Sons” was not a hit on Broadway. It was of course, winning him his first Tony Award for best author and wiping out the stigma of his first commercial venture of “The Man Who Had All the Luck” that lasted only four performances. He went on to be a giant in the theatre garnering a Pulitzer Prize for his Death of a Salesman.
Miller is known for portraying characters who are reaching for the American Dream and so it is with the Keller family in general and the patriarch Joe in particular. It is based on a factual incident of a woman who informed on her father who had sold faulty parts to the U.S. military during World War II. Joe Keller who grew up in poverty and now owns a profitable parts manufacturing plant, shipped out defective P-40 cylinder heads to the U.S. Air Force that resulted in the crash of 21 planes and the death of their pilots.
The play is tightly constructed in the Aristotelian concept of the three Unities of Time, Place and Action. It takes place in the backyard of the Keller’s home in a Midwestern town from early Sunday morning in August to early morning the next day. The back story took place three and half years earlier when Joe and his partner/neighbor Steve Deever allowed the defective parts to be shipped. Both were convicted but Joe through a lie was exonerated and Steve remains in jail. At about the same time eldest son Larry Keller was listed as killed in action when his plane crashed in China. His mother Kate refuses to believe he is dead and is certain that Larry will return even though they have planted a ‘memorial tree’ in the back yard. Steve Deever’s children Ann and George who lived next door have moved away in disgrace from the house next door now owned by doctor Jim Bayliss and wife Sue.
Younger son Cris Keller has returned from the war and is the idol of his father and to those men who have known him. Two of these men are Dr. Bayliss and George Deever. Chris has been writing to Ann Deever. That relationship has blossomed and they are on the verge of marriage even though they have not seen each other in three years. Kate will have none of this and insists Ann is ‘Larry’s girl’ and she should be waiting for him to return. Kate and the town know of Joe’s duplicity but Joe is in denial, assured that he is well liked in the community.
At the opening of the play there has been a storm and Larry’s memorial tree has been blown down. Kate suggests that this is an omen that Larry will return. Ann at Chris’s behest returns and the conflict begins. When is it appropriate to tell Kate of their intentions? Kate’s unreasonableness escalates throwing the family into turmoil and after an expository first act there is an explosion of temperament and Ann reveals a devastating letter from Larry that decimates all and leads to a proof of the fact that Joe was guilty of allowing the defective parts to be sent out.
Director Lickteig has taken liberties with the script, deleting the role of Bert a little neighbor boy who frequently visits the Keller’s yard to play “jail” with Joe. He has also diluted the role of two other characters Frank Lubey and wife Lydia cutting some very cogent lines.
The cast gives very uneven performances with the exception of Marilyn Hughes as Kate as she gives a performance to match her stellar role as the mother in Broadway Bound. The remainder of the cast includes Reuben Alvear II, Jacqui Herrera, Joseph Hirsch, David Irving, Steph Peek, Carina Lastimosa Salazar and Louis Schilling.
Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com