The Sins of the Fathers
All My Sons, now on stage at Stratford’s Tom Patterson Theatre is a testimony to the sin of greed. Arthur Miller’s thought-provoking play shows how one man succumbs to war profiteering, leading to the complete decimation of two families and the destruction of more.
It’s 1946 in Ohio. Joe Keller owns a factory that made parts for airplanes used in World War II, and apparently he has become wealthy. His son, Chris, after returning from war, now works at the factory which has expanded to other products. His other son, Larry, has been missing in action for three years. Joe’s wife, Kate, is firm in her belief that Larry will come home, but Joe and Chris are convinced he is dead.
Joe’s business partner, Steve, is in jail for selling the Air Force faulty parts that caused the death of 21 pilots. When Ann, Larry’s pre-war girlfriend who is also Steve’s daughter, comes to visit at Chris’ bidding, things become very complicated. Ann has given up on Larry’s return and agrees to marry Chris. Ann’s brother George and the Kellers’ neighbours add to untruths swirling around the airplane parts and Larry’s disappearance.
Martha Henry’s expert direction has given us an honest picture of a family crumbling apart, right through to its exhausting and gut-wrenching demise. She deserves credit for assembling an expert cast to create this post-war tragedy.
Joseph Ziegler’s Joe Keller is a perfect example of a manipulative man who can bulldoze over everyone else by seemingly being their friend or mentor. We know this character, we’ve worked with him in the past, or been stuck with him at a family reunion. Zeigler’s interpretation of Keller draws you in, only to slap you down.
Lucy Peacock gives us a raw and pained Kate Keller. Peacock shows us pieces of Kate’s strength despite the family around her worrying about her sanity.
Tim Campbell as Chris Keller is outstanding. His honest portrayal draws in the audience, and we wish him success in his engagement to Ann, hoping he will find happiness. Yet we know the war still haunts him.
The Tom Patterson Theatre has been renovated to be theatre-in-the-round, creating a 1940s back yard that would be the American Dream. An apple tree, wicker furniture on the patio, the comfortable back porch, and a cozy rocking chair, all contrast with the lack of comfort this family feels.
Miller’s intense script together with this superior, well-directed cast offer an evening of gripping theatre. To be dragged along through this the family’s horror for 24 hours is a memorable experience. This is the drama for which Stratford Festival is famous.
All My Sons continues in repertoire until September 25 (Extended to Oct. 2) at the Tom Patterson Theatre, Stratford. Tickets are available at the Stratford Festival at 1-800-567-1600, or check www.stratfordfestival.ca
Photo: Joseph Ziegler as Joe Keller in All My Sons. Photo by David Hou.
All My Sons
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Martha Henry
Performed by Joseph Ziegler, Lucy Peacock, Tim Campbell et al.
Produced by Stratford Festival
Tom Patterson Theatre, Stratford
June 1 to September 25, 2016 (Extended to Oct. 2)
Reviewed by Mary Alderson