BWW Reviews: ALL MY SONS, Open Air Theatre, May 20 2014
Having never been to the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre before, all I knew was the buzz and excitement other people gave off about previous shows there. Walking through the main entrance, immediately there's a warming and unique atmosphere; perhaps it's just because it's that time of year when we can finally sit outside in England with only a small chance of being rained on. It's a new season at the Open Air, and what better way to begin than with Arthur Miller's classic 'All My Sons', directed by Timothy Sheader.
Set in 1947 in the aftermath of the Second World War; Joe Keller, a loving father of two sons, one still missing in action, owns a factory that once provided engine heads for fighter planes. 21 American pilots died due to a batch of dodgy engine heads being sent out, and Joe Keller's business partner took the blame.
With the setting of an advertising billboards with a happy cartoon family always in the back, much of the everyday chat is seen as false from the beginning. Although somewhat GCSE drama-like, the bringing out of all the characters in the opening and closing of acts actually worked surprisingly well. I particularly found it heart-breaking when the ghosts of the 21 dead pilots paraded on stage.
With Miller's writing itself being so brilliant most of the time I could have closed my eyes and still enjoyed the plot. However, the beautiful setting of the forest backdrop caused me to never want to blink. As the evening progressed he outside natural lighting fitted perfectly with the mood of the play, it's like Ibsen purposely wrote it to performed in the open air.
Tom Mannion played a warm and open father who eventually brought me to tears with his monstrous mistakes from the past. Alongside him, stood his wife Kate, Brid Brennan, who was desperate to believe her son Larry hadn't died. Her desperation and hope brought the tragedy out of the entire piece.
The events take only a day to unfold, and yet the shattering end hits you like a tonne of bricks, leaving you questioning everyday family life...