Sunday, July 3, 2016

ALL MY SONS



All My Sons by Arthur Miller

Directed by Kip Williams. Designed by Alice Babage. Lighting Designer. Nick Schlieper. Composer and Sound Designer. Max Lyandvert. Roslyn Packer Theatre. Sydney Theatre Company. June 9 – July 9 2016. Bookings. sydneytheatre.com.au or 0292501777

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Robyn Nevin as Kate Keller and John Howard as Joe Keller
 in Arthur Miller's All My Sons
 
Arthur Miller may no longer be with us, but the Sydney Theatre Company’s magnificent production of his classic All My Sons stands as a towering testament to Miller’s enduring legacy as one of the greats of American playwrighting in the twentieth century. With an outstanding ensemble cast spearheaded by veterans, Robyn Nevin and John Howard, and directed with forceful spontaneity by Kip Williams, All My Sons exposes with astonishing power and relevance the consequence of a tragic concealment that tears a family apart, destroys innocent lives and assumes the portent of human tragedy.

Eryn Jean Norvill and Chris Ryan in All My Sons 





Inspired by a true incident in which aircraft manufacturers, the Curtiss-Wright Corporation  were condemned  in 1943 for manufacturing faulty parts for their Lockland aircraft, thus  possibly causing the deaths of servicemen. President Truman’s investigation exposed a veritable web of corruption and concealments, that resulted in imprisonment for key figures in the scandal.
From this recorded event, Miller constructed a drama that focuses on the impact on two families of one man’s conscious effort to lay the blame on his partner and profit from his deception. All My Sons still resonates as a moral dissertation on Truth for a twenty-first century audience. John Howard gives a monumental performance as the wealthy and successful industrialist, Joe Keller, who hides a dark and terrible secret. Robyn Nevin is mesmerizing as his fragile and vulnerable wife, Kate, desperately clinging to the belief that her elder son is still alive, three years after having been reported missing in the war. Chris Keller, played with gripping conviction by Chris Ryan, is in love with his missing brother’s sweetheart Ann Beever (a captivating portrayal of innocence by Eryn Jean Norvill).  A faultless supporting cast play out the surging inevitability of Miller’s drama. Truth will out, but Miller constructs a tantalizing maze of contradictory possibilities, which are finally revealed by the appearance of Ann’s brother, George. Josh McConville gives a riveting performance as the tormented, confused and agonizing son of Keller’s jailed scapegoat partner. Two truths conflict as preludes to the swelling scene. George’s arrival tears apart the fabric of deceit and hollow notions of forgeiveness, and Ann’s letter from the dead Larry shatters the last vestige of hope for a family living with a lie and now destroyed by truth. The truth will out and deceit will render its merciless consequence.
Eryn Jean Norvill as Ann Beever and Robyn Nevin as Kate Keller

All My Sons  is a tour de force in every respect. There is not one performance that does not ring with absolute conviction. Set against Alice Babage’s unobtrusive design of a facade of the front of the Keller’s home in the summer of ’46, Kip Williams’s direction allows the cast the freedom of an open stage. The action is impulsive, dynamic and authentic. Miller’s brilliantly constructed saga demands its own truth. Emotions, raw or reasonable, fiery or fragile, true or false are imbued with a realism, heightened by the natural rhythms of Miller’s dialogue. Dialogue coach Charmian Gladwell evokes an authentic American accent that lends authenticity to performance and belief in every moment of this superb performance. Every detail is attended to; every production element carefully and sensitively created, including Nick Schlieper’s natural and effective lighting, and composer and sound designer Max Lyandvert’s effective and emotive accompaniment to the action.
John Howard as Joe Keller and Chris Ryan as Chris Keller

I watch Nevin as she joins others to take the final bow. She is emotionally drained, taking a moment to compose herself against the exposed interior of the home. She barely smiles as she takes her place in the line. Her astounding performance is over, but for all the cast, the matinee has been a relentless creation of Miller’s powerful play, gripping, compelling, illuminating and powerfully memorable.
Robyn Nevin as Kate Keller. Josh McConville as George Beever.
Eryn Jean Norvill as Ann Beever





The season is sold out, as are so many of the STC’s productions that I have seen in recent years. If only a wealthy corporation could come forward to fund STC Live and stream productions like All My Sons to the rest of the nation, how much richer would be the cultural character of our country’s stage.

Publicity photos: James Green
Production photos: Zan Wimberley


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