Regional Reviews: Phoenix
All My Sons
All My Sons opened on Broadway in 1947 and is based on a true story about an event that happened in Ohio. It is set in the backyard of a home in a Midwestern town in the late 1940s. Joe Keller is a businessman whose company manufactured and shipped cracked aircraft engine cylinder heads used in planes that resulted in the deaths of 21 World War II pilots. While Joe was exonerated for any wrongdoing, his partner Steve Deever wasn't and is still in prison. Joe and his wife Kate's oldest son Larry has been missing in action for three years and Kate refuses to believe that he is dead. Their youngest son, Chris, who works at the plant with his father, has invited Larry's girlfriend Ann, who is Steve's son, to their home for a visit and he intends to propose to her. However, he hasn't told his mother of his plans as he knows their marriage would destroy her, since it would mean that Ann has moved on and isn't still waiting for Larry to return. An explosive chain of events, including an appearance by Kate's brother and the revelation of important information, threatens to reveal the truth about who knew the cylinders were cracked, as well as if Larry is alive or dead.
All My Sons is an extremely well-written play in which Miller slowly lets details and facts about these two interconnected families and their pasts be known. His ability to weave in numerous themes, such as the importance of loyalty, the results of betrayal, and how animosity can spell one's downfall, as he dissects family dynamics, shows what an exceptional playwright he was. Also, in the past 20 years there have been reports of various high-level politicians and business people with ties to large corporations who benefit financially from their military contracts, so the play, even though it was written 75 years ago, is still very relevant.
Under the skillful direction of Richard Vines, all of the members of this cast deliver assured and believable performances. As Joe, CD Macaulay exhibits the perfect blend of fatherly compassion, neighborly chumminess, and cocky egotism, but underneath his straightforward exterior is a powerful, manipulative, and dangerous man. Susan Webster is simply superb as Kate, a woman with a steely conviction in her beliefs and a firm refusal to even consider that what she knows deep down to be the truth about her son is possible. Her act two interaction with Ann's brother is stunningly delivered.
As Chris, Garrad Perry does a great job in demonstrating the happiness and excitement he feels in having Ann visit, but Chris is also nervous that she may not feel the same way toward him that he feels toward her. Perry shows that Chris is strong in standing up to both of his parents, and when facts start to come out, his reactions are infused with a realistic sense of anger and disillusionment. Sheridan Wood is equally as good as Ann. She instills Ann with a warm and a sympathetic nature that gives the character a nice amount of confidence that appropriately turns to confusion and concern when her brother shows up. Joey Whelan is excellent as Ann's brother George, who comes to the house with determination to get to the facts about the past, but when he allows himself to be pulled back in by Joe's and even Kate's manipulation he explodes in a beautifully acted and directed moment.
The supporting cast all deliver natural performances that add to the realist and dramatic moments in the play. These include Robert Peters, Melissa Anderson, Lex Cobb and Cisco Fernandez as the two couples who live next door, and Aiden Haren, who is wonderful as one of the couple's young sons.
Vines' direction ensures that all of the dramatic moments, as well as the few comical interludes from the neighbors, never turn into melodrama. The intimacy of Ghostlight's venue also allows for the audience to feel like they're right in the Keller backyard with the rest of the family and a personal witness to every shocking revelation in what is one of Arthur Miller's best plays, including the ending that packs a punch.
All My Sons runs through March 20, 2022, at Ghostlight Theatre, 13541 W Camino Del Sol, Sun City West AZ. For tickets and information, please visit www.ghostlightaz.com or call 623-777-9717.
Written by Arthur Miller