All My Sons

‘All My Sons’ proves as emotional, pertinent as all of Miller’s works        

Meg Hale
Asheville Daily Planet
Wednesday, 21 June 2006

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What I don’t understand is: How can someone who was sleeping with Marilyn Monroe be so moody? Arthur Miller is one of the most gifted writers of plays with messages that are so timeless and with plots that are so emotionally wrenching, one needs a nap after seeing one of them.

Before my nap, I am always so excited to see people produce works by Miller. So, of course, I was thrilled when I heard that the Immediate Theatre Project was performing “All My Sons.” 

ITP, who brought us “The Glass Menagerie” and “The American Dream,” has really outdone itself on this one. I was truly blown away by the acting in this play. This is the sort of play in which all the characters have to have fairly huge emotional breakdowns in the same scene for a prolonged amount of time.

So, it is a little tricky to keep the moment from becoming a lot of actors screaming over top of each other. I thought the actors did a stupendous job of building up to the peak of the emotion and creating variations among characters’ feelings.

“All My Sons” is the story of an American family who has its own business in a small town in 1947. The family suffered the loss of a son in World War II and lived through a scandal involving the business. When the play opens, the family is still very much coping with the aftermath of it all. The head of the family is Joe Keller, played by actor and storyteller David Novak. Keller is at an age to retire and is looking to pass off the family business to his son Chris, played by Ross DeGraw.

Because it is Miller, the play also has dual-conflicts. So, while Joe and Chris are debating the future of the business, the mother Kate (played by Kay Galvin) is having trouble accepting the death of her son Larry.

It only makes matters worse when Larry’s old girlfriend, Ann, played by Lauren Fortuna, shows up back in town and begins a relationship with Chris.

The climactic moments between DeGraw and Novak are stunning! I honestly cannot remember the last time I have seen such real, raw emotions onstage. I almost choked up just because of the sheer honesty and reality of the scene, which does not often happen in theatre.

I thought that the best performance, however, was given by Galvin. She plays Kate as very strong and powerful when she needs to be, but easily shattered if one knows how to go about doing so.

I loved that she was a loving and nurturing mother, but had it in her to strike fear into anyone she spoke to. Galvin did an exquisite job of putting all of that into a believable character.

True, Miller’s writing helps with all of this. His lines are so remarkable that an actor can really knock the stuffing out of a character, if one plays it correctly.

A great deal of credit goes to director Hans Meyer, who co-founded ITP with Willie Vanzetti Repoley, who plays Ann’s brother George in the play.

Of all the Miller plays to perform nowadays, none is more appropriate than this. It deals with war and the pain it causes for those who live through it and those who are left behind. It also centers around people who profit from it.

There is a great quote from Joe in the last act that is highlighted in the program: “War and peace, it’s nickels and dimes.” I think that topic is going to hit home for a lot of people.

I have never encountered a work by Miller that I have not adored. This being my first viewing of “All My Sons,” I had high hopes. This play met every one of my expectations of it. ITP deserves to be commended. I strongly recommend it.

The play will be performed at North Carolina Stage Company at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday with a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday. I give it five and a half of my six planets.