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January 2004
Review: All My Sons
All My Sons
All My Sons


All My Sons
By Arthur Miller

The New Theatre

Wednesday 4 - Saturday 7 February, 2004

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By Victoria Roddam

Opening on Broadway in 1947, the year of the Valentine's Day massacre and the Jitterbug craze, Miller's damning indictment of the American Dream, All My Sons, was his breakthrough play, garnering awards and acclaim in all directions. Despite solid performances all round, however, similar plaudits are unlikely for OUDs/Congo Red's uncharacteristically flat interpretation of a passionate and complex script.

Set shortly after the end of World War 2, All My Sons is a moving yet bitter account of the Keller family's struggle to cope with the wartime death of their youngest son, Larry. Larry's mother Kate - a uniquely strong performance from Lorna Beckett, who was equally impressive in last year's As You Like It - is falling apart, while elder son Chris (Harry Lloyd) struggles with his own wartime memories, and wisecracking father Joe (Gabriel Vick) remains oblivious to all but his business concerns. With the return to the neighbourhood of Larry's fiancée Ann (Caroline Dyott) devastating events are set in motion…

This is a typically professional production by OUDs/Congo Red, tackling many difficult and diverse elements in a competent manner. However, the staging lacks the dynamic element which makes Miller's work so complex and multilayered, and the performances, though for the most part smoothly accomplished, lack emotional depth or conviction at the most important moments. Harry Lloyd wrestles bravely with the tortured soul of Chris, but ultimately the challenge proves too much for him, while Caroline Dyott, though warming to the role, plays Ann in a manner too thoroughly straightforward to be totally convincing. In fact, with the exception of Vick and Beckett, many of the most rewarding moments come from the strong supporting cast, and in particular Tai Shan Ling and Michael Lesslie, who both show exceptional promise.

Unfortunately, it is one of life's certainties that great expectations are frequently left unfulfilled - a truism which applies as much in this case to real-life, as to Miller's searing critique of wholesome American values.

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