Review by Michelle Sutton
New Theatre presents Arthur Miller’s classic play All My Sons. Written in 1946, All My Sons explores the aftermath of World War II on families in America and themes of secrets, guilt and shame.
The set design by Kate Beere is immediately striking when one enters New Theatre. An imposing construction on the stage and taking up most of the space is the front facade of a 1940s style suburban home, two-storeys, with several windows and a front door and hallway entrance that actors can walk in and out of. There is furniture set outside the house to give the impression of characters sitting on the front porch and walking around the front yard where neighbours can wander past. The lighting design by Aron Murray is a standout element, adding drama, intrigue and a sense of foreboding to the story. The opening scene is especially memorable, with the lights shining through the windows of the house to show the crack of lightning and illuminate Kate’s silhouette on the stage. Director Saro Lusty-Cavallari is also responsible for the sound design in the play, which works well in partnership with the lighting to create the sense of a small town in America and the increasing feeling of claustrophobia and panic as the the family drama escalates with each entanglement revealed. Director Saro Lusty-Cavallari does a great job maintaining the pace and momentum throughout the play which is entirely made up of conversations on a porch.
Greg Poppleton plays Joe Keller, the father of what a neighbour refers to as ‘the holy family’. Kath Gordon is excellent as Kate Keller, embodying a mother holding onto any scrap of hope for her son to be alive. Her performance is solid and nuanced throughout the 2 hour show, displaying multitudes of grief, sorrow and strength at once. Kaitlyn Thor is perfect as the slightly bitter, antagonistic neighbour of the Keller’s, who lives firmly in reality and bristles at the Keller’s perfect family image. Friendly neighbour Frank played by Liam Greinke provides a contrast of hope, optimism and brings lighter moments to the tragic story. Bridget Haberecht plays a sweet and sorrowful Ann Deever with tenderness. Kyle Barrett plays Chris Keller, Joe’s son who returns from the war alive. Barrett portrays Chris journey of questioning and despair as the pillars of faith he has based his life start unravelling and his certainty and idealism start crumbling around him.
New Theatre’s production of All My Sons explores the tension between idealism and practicality and poses the question if under the same pressure someone would choose to protect their business and family over upholding their ethical and civic responsibilities. The production brings to life the ethical and moral conundrums first laid out by Miller’s script in 1946, asking how can we go on once we realise the people we idolise are corrupt and fallible, and how can we ever return to ‘normalcy’ after the horrors of war come home in the form of trauma.
All My Sons at New Theatre is a great performance of a classic play, the direction and acting bring out the best in Arthur Miller’s clever and tragic writing, and the set, lighting and costume design help transport the audience back in time. It is an earnest and moving production of a timeless and harrowing story.