All My Sons

Passion, intensity fill powerhouse production of 'All My Sons'

By Tony Kiss
TKISS@CITIZEN-TIMES.COM
Asheville Citizen-Times
June 23, 2006

ASHEVILLE - Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" was written 60 years ago, at the end of World War II, but this story of war profiteering - and the horrible price it demands - couldn't be more timely. Think about Iraq. Think about corporate scandals. And it's as fresh as tomorrow's news.

Asheville's immediate theatre project has mounted this powerhouse piece with passion and intensity in the 99-seat downtown N.C. Stage Company space on Rankin Avenue. The results are nothing short of amazing, with skilled performances and superb storytelling. But be warned - it's not feel-good theater.

Miller sets the story in the summer of '47. During the war, Joe Keller (David Novak) made a fortune building airplane parts, but the operation collapsed when the firm shipped a defective batch, killing 21 pilots. After sticking his never-seen partner with the blame (and a continuing prison sentence), Joe has sort of rebuilt his name and company with help from his ever-supportive son Chris (Ross DeGraw).

But the family is still wrecked by the disappearance and certain death of their pilot son Larry. Grieving mother/wife Kate (Kay Galvin) can't accept that he's gone - even two years after the war.

And now the tension builds. Chris will marry Larry's old girlfriend, Ann (Lauren Fortuna), daughter of Joe's jailed former partner. Kate can't accept it.

Neither can Ann's brother George (immediate theatre producing director Willie Repoley), who comes barging in like a pack of matches in a room of gunpowder. Yes, there's an explosion, and it's nasty.

Director Hans Meyer (who founded immediate with Repoley) has assembled a magnificent cast, Novak is superb as good old Joe - everybody's pal, always the peacemaker but carrying an unspeakable burden. Galvin, one of the local theater greats, is frighteningly fantastic as his psychotic wife.

DeGraw and Fortuna provide solid foundation here, up to a point as the ugly truth is revealed. Repoley's appearance comes late, but it's a wild bit of work. The cast includes lesser supporting characters who don't lend as much, but Jennifer Foster comes through as a neighbor and seeming friend who is seething with hate.

Do see this show. Just don't expect easy, happy sleep when it's over.