BWW Review: ALL MY SONS at Court Theatre
Court Theatre Artistic Director Charles Newell lends a deft hand to this stunning, newly searing production of Arthur Miller's ALL MY SONS. Though Miller's classic play takes place in 1946, the all-star ensemble makes the plight of the crumbling Keller family feel raw and altogether present. From the moment "thunder" comes shattering down on John Culbert's set as the play begins (lights by Keith Parham and sound by Andre Pluess), ALL MY SONS spirals towards an inevitable tragic end. While this foreboding scene alludes to the darkness to come, Newell's staging still has a lovely progression in which the tragic moments amount to a larger, all-encompassing gloom.
Newell has assembled a pitch-perfect ensemble of actors who pack a real gut punch. As Keller patriarch Joe, John Judd has a necessarily authoritative presence that he slowly peels back to reveal a broken, misguided vulnerability that lies beneath. As his wife Kate, Kate Collins lends immense depth-of-feeling to the role as she continues to mourn the loss of her son, Larry, who disappeared three years ago. Collins makes Kate's grief and anguish feel uncomfortably present and expertly captures her character's deep, unflinching state of denial. Timothy Edward Kane gives a master-class performance as Chris, the only Keller son to return from World War II. Kane's delivery is superlative in every way as he captures Chris's hopelessly idealistic persona. Even as Kane embodies Chris's idealism, however, he also leans into the darker, more emotional moments his role demands and owns them completely. Heidi Kettenring is equally commanding as Ann Deever, Chris's childhood friend and perhaps soon-to-be fiancé-and Larry's former love interest. Costume designer Jacqueline Firkins also does some of her finest work with Kettenring's perfectly era-appropriate 1940s outfits as well.
There's not a weak performer onstage in ALL MY SONS with Karl Hamilton, Bradford Ryan Lund, Johanna Mckenzie Miller, Abby Pierce, and Dan Waller rounding out the cast-with Charlie Herman and Gabe Korzatkowski alternating in the role of young neighborhood boy Bert. As with some of his other plays, Miller was deeply inspired by the conventions of Greek tragedy in writing ALL MY SONS-and Newell uses the ensemble to interesting effect in highlighting this influence. The actors occasionally appear on the sidelines of the action as we watch the Kellers' plight unfold, standing wordlessly onstage. Newell's inclusion of this silent Greek chorus has mixed results; sometimes the ensemble plays important witness to the Kellers' darkest moments, and other times they seem to awkwardly hover onstage.
On the whole, this is an ALL MY SONS worth seeing for Newell and the ensemble clearly demonstrate the emotional immediacy of this play. As Miller's script relays the undoing of the Keller family, his accompanying message about the obligation which we all have to greater humankind rings loud and true. The poignancy and timeliness of that critical element of ALL MY SONS feel entirely of this moment.
ALL MY SONS runs through February 11 at Court Theatre, 535 South Ellis Avenue. Tickets are $44-$74. Visit CourtTheatre.org to learn more.
Photo by Michael Brosilow