Search This Blog

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Theatre - All My Sons - Apollo Theatre

Star rating – 9/10

This splendid production of ‘All My Sons’ serves to remind us what a tremendously powerful playwright Arthur Miller is, and one whose work is still as relevant today as when it was written. His 1947 play is about a family torn apart in the course of a single day by the weight of past lies and deceptions.

Joe Keller is a successful businessman with his own thriving family firm, and a committed family man, popular amongst the neighbourhood children and jovial by nature. His wife Kate is emotionally brittle from the disappearance of one of their two sons three years ago. Larry was a pilot in the Second World War, who is missing presumed dead after this plane failed to return to base. Joe and Kate are powerfully and brilliantly played by David Suchet and Zoe Wanamaker. Their uneasy domestic balancing act unravels and weaknesses are painfully exposed before the audience’s eyes.

Their surviving son, Chris, is determined to move on, partly by becoming engaged to Annie, the former girlfriend of his dead brother. He invites her to stay with the express purpose of asking her to marry him, a purpose not entirely helped by his mother’s refusal to accept that Larry is dead. Stephen Campbell Moore and Jemima Rooper give excellent supporting performances as Chris and Annie, who desperately want to move on with their lives, but are ultimately frozen by the events of the past.

The jovial Joe is hiding a lie so big that it will cause the family to be ripped apart. He let his former business partner, who also just happens to be Annie’s father, take the rap and resulting prison sentence for allowing parts for planes to be used in the war to leave their factory with defects covered over by hasty and botched welding. When this terrible secret comes to light, it is apparent that he is not the only family member to know, or at least suspect, this truth. Miller’s superb and morally challenging script shows how the weight of lies can cripple. It also feels entirely relevant with its theme of sending people to war with defective or inadequate equipment, with deadly consequences. More than shades of Afghanistan here then.

This is an emotional powerhouse of a play, with a great cast who bring its fissions to light slowly but surely. The whole cast are worthy of the standing ovations they undoubtedly receive each night, and Suchet and Wanamaker show why they deserve the rich praise that has been lavished on them in particular, and on this tremendous production.

No comments:

Post a Comment