All My Sons by Arthur Miller
Richmond Shakespeare Society
Mary Wallace Theatre - 30 March 2019
Review by Matthew Grierson
The Keller family may not be perfect, but the three performers who bring them to life in RSS’s All My Sons are.
Miller’s domestic drama is set in suburban Ohio in the aftermath of the Second World War.
As he is introduced to us, Joe Keller seems the godparent of the neighbourhood, play-acting police chief for local kids. However, through Simon Bickerstaffe’s steady, nuanced performance, we gradually understand the troubles that beset Joe, and even as he squanders the sympathy of his family he retains ours, making for compulsive viewing.
The play seems at first concerned with missing son Larry, who never returned from the hostilities, it then opens up the possibility that Joe is implicated in an industrial scandal for which business partner Steve Deever ended up in jail, before finally revealing the two events to be intimately connected.
Kate, Joe’s wife, turns to astrology in her need to imagine her son’s return, shown in the veiled desperation of Dorothy Duffy’s faultless characterisation. While she and Frank are ultimately proved wrong, fate is nonetheless closing in on the family as a grim consequence of Joe’s past actions.
But the breakout star of the production is surely Jack Lumb as the affable, easy-going Chris Keller. Unlike the rest of the characters, Chris is upfront about his failings, but his is the character that undergoes the greatest transformation in the course of the play, and Lumb completely sells it. From boy next door to heartbroken son, no line reading or gesture is misjudged, and in technique and affect alike he proves himself equal to the impressive Bickerstaffe and Duffy as his parents.
Read Matthew Grierson’s full review at www.markaspen.com/2019/03/24/all-sons
Photography by Rachael Burnham
Perfect Tension All My Sons