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A New York Theatre Guide to... Arthur Miller's All My Sons!
Here's all you need to know about the classy Broadway revival of the Arthur Miller classic...
On the same day as the production secures its 2019 Tony Award nomination for “Best Revival of a Play,” we bring you our New York Theatre Guide to Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. Largely credited as the play that launched Miller as the moral voice of the American Theater back in 1947, this star-studded, Roundabout Theatre Company revival began performances at Broadway’s American Airlines Theatre on April 4, 2019, officially opening on April 22 and playing a limited engagement through June 23, 2019. As the play’s dramatic tension revolves around the unearthing of dark family secrets of its main protagonists, The Kellers, we’ll try our best to avoid any spoilers for those still unfamiliar with this great work, but friendly advice never goes amiss…
What’s it all about?
Inspired by true events in early 1940’s Ohio, All My Sons might simply be described as a beautifully crafted criticism of the American Dream. It follows a prosperous, 60-year-old local businessman named Joe Keller, his wife Kate and their 32-year-old-son Chris, who returned wounded from World War II. Joe and Kate’s other son, Larry, served as a pilot and sadly never returned. Although he was reported missing in action years ago, Kate desperately holds onto the belief that he is still alive and will return to them one day, whilst the other family members have long come to terms with the inevitable. The plot thickens as Chris invites his brother’s former sweetheart and the family's neighbor, Ann Deever, to stay with the intention of proposing to her. Ann had left the neighborhood following her father’s arrest, as it was claimed he was responsible for shipping out faulty airplane parts to the army which in turn resulted in the tragic death of 21 pilots. As the parts came from Joe’s business, he too was arrested, but was later exonerated as the blame was shifted to Ann’s father, Steve. Is Larry still alive? Is Joe actually innocent? And what will be the consequences for the Keller family as its secrets are gradually exposed over the course of three twisting and heart-wrenching acts?
Who's starring in it?
This Roundabout revival is headlined by two-time Golden Globe winner and four-time Academy Award nominee Annette Bening as Kate Keller, making a welcomed return to the Broadway stage for the first time since 1987. You will remember her from celebrated turns in such films as “American Beauty,” “The Kids Are All Right,” and “Being Julia,” and here she proves her stage acting chops with a stellar performance in which she balances vulnerability and stubbornness effortlessly. Tony Award winner Tracy Letts (who has also appeared in regular roles on “Homeland” and “Divorce”) co-stars as Joe Keller, once again revelling in his commanding stage presence as the proud father slowly begins to crumble before our very eyes. And Benjamin Walker (star of such films as “In the Heart of the Sea” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) completes the main trio of protagonists as Chris Keller, perhaps the most emotionally demanding character of the piece. Although both Ms. Bening and Mr. Walker have been singled out for Tony Award nominations for their efforts, we would also like to give a special mention to Hampton Fluker, making his Broadway debut and giving us a scene-stealing performance as Ann Deever’s brother, George.
What’s special about this production?
Besides offering the rare opportunity to experience the screen legend that is Annette Bening on the New York stage in one of Broadway’s more intimate venues, this Roundabout production also boasts a stunning, picturesque set by Douglas W. Schmidt that depicts the rear of the Keller’s house and back garden, as well as neighboring homes, in fine detail. Even the upstage rooms are fully realized, as you see characters’ entrances and exits through the windows. The production also features stirring, black and white video and projection design by Jeff Sugg bookending each act, enhancing the atmospherics and giving it a classic touch. And although the play is predominantly a period piece, my hat goes off to Roundabout Theatre Company and director Jack O’Brien for the inclusion of African American actors in the cast, which distances it from a purely Caucasian 1940s Midwestern United States setting and helps give it a touch of timelessness and broader scope.
Who would we recommend it to?
Obviously if you have been moved by any of Arthur Miller’s other most notable plays, such as Death of a Salesman, A View from the Bridge, or The Crucible, then All My Sons is a must-see. Otherwise, for the Miller first-timers amongst you, if you tend to go for character and dialogue-driven dramas that creep up on you like a thief in the night, then this may well be just your cup of tea. In All My Sons, it’s all about the text and the principal characters are truly a gift for actors to sink their teeth into and show off their craft while you sit on the edge of your seat, enrolled in their master class.
All My Sons Tickets are available now for performances through to June 23, 2019.
(Photos by Joan Marcus)