Friday, January 22, 2010

THEATRE REVIEW: ALL MY SONS

The latest production by the Huntington Theatre Company is none other than Arthur Miller's classic ALL MY SONS--a powerful and remarkably timeless work that seems more relevant than ever. It's a play that pits the American dream against a larger ideal, and explodes the idea of family beyond the nuclear. Believe me--it packs a wallop.

It's the tale of one Joe Keller who built a business out of manufacturing airplane parts and selling them to the government during WWII. But Joe's success has been clouded by scandal: some of those airplane parts were faulty. Compounding the drama, Joe's Son has been missing in action for three years, and his ghost hangs over the family.

The play is fueled by two stand-out performances--Will Lyman as the troubled patriarch Joe Keller, torn between personal responsibility and moral compromise; but then there's the extraordinary Karen MacDonald as Joe's haunted wife. Her sorrow, pain, and towering will is like something out of greek tragedy. It's a performance that will shake you to your core.

I remember talking to Arthur Miller himself about this play when he was in town with a production many years ago. I relayed an anecdote that conveyed how close to the bone this play cuts. It seems that the actor Ralph Waite (papa Walton!!)was starring in ALL MY SONS on the road in New Haven, when it was suggested that he might be an entertaining speaker to invite to address the foreman's club at nearby Sikorsky Aircraft (famous makers of helicopters). Apparently, when they found out what the play was about, the idea was immediately killed. I found that surprising-- and revealing. So did Mr. Miller.

Whether you make airplane parts or not, be prepared for this production to strike a nerve. See it at the Huntington Theatre through February 7!

Stay tuned!

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