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Theatre Review: All My Sons

15 October 17 words: Tanya Raybould

Arthur Miller's first critical and commercial success seeps into the present.

Photographer: Robert Day

This timely production looks at the dark side of the American Dream. What begins as a flouncy play set in the surburban rear yard of a typical all American family soon unravels into something far darker as their lives are ripped apart in this tale of lies and deceit.

Director Fiona Buffini chose to stage the classic play after Donald Trump was elected last year. Written by an angry Miller in 1947, the themes ring true with timeless relevance.

On a basic level, its a damn good story about family secrets and the truth always catching up on you eventually, but delve deeper and this is a story of guilt and consequence. Family man Joe Keller has spent three and a half years covering up lies after he knowingly sent his business partner to prison, after telling him to patch up defective aeroplane parts which led to the death of 21 pilots. We don't know this until the second half within which the pace changes with the entrance of George Deever. Son of the jailed business partner, he is the only one brave enough to challenge the truth and the Kellers.

A strong cast captivate in this powerful gripping performance which explores the depths of Miller's writing. The women seem essentially to be the strong characters. Caroline Loncq plays Kate Kellor, a suffering mother unwilling to admit her son is dead, or is she sidestepping the awful truth? Sean Chapman as patriach Joe Keller, embodies the appearance of the ideal family man, bettering himself for his family. Not only does he put in a believable performance but he has to make the character act as well in order to back up his own lie. Although All My Sons is a social realist play, it also has elements of Greek tragedy. Is Joe deceitful or tragic? Is he both; a man to whom nothing is more important than his family, who, with himself, are ultimately destroyed by fate?

The set is stunning yet kept deliberately simple so as not to distract from the characters engaging dialogue. This modern tragedy opens as missing-in-action son Larry's memorial tree is torn down by a storm. A catalyst for what unravels. A curved stage setting reveals a tangled web of roots beneath, indicative possibly of things hidden which once lay beneath the surface.

Sticking closely to the original play, it is an intense, moving and emotional production. Simply brilliant, this is another triumph for the Nottingham Playhouse.


All My Son runs until Saturday 21 October 2017.

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