MvVO Art Launches AD ART SHOW
Broadway

Falling in Love Again With Arthur Miller and All My Sons

Falling in Love Again With Arthur Miller and All My Sons

“Sure, he was my son. But I think to him they were all my sons. And I guess they were, I guess they were.” Joe

Tracy Letts, Annette Benning Photo by Joan Marcus

If I won the lottery, I would buy tickets for everybody to see Roundabout’s revival of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, at the American Airlines TheatreThis devastating story of the loss of the American dream in the capable hands of director Jack O’Brien hits home and shows how generational upbringing dictates our decisions, our morality, and the fate of the world.

“We used to shoot a man who acted like a dog, but honor was real there, you were protecting something. But here? This is the land of the great big dogs, you don’t love a man here, you eat him! That’s the principle; the only one we live by.” Chris

Benjamin Walker, Tracy Letts, Annette Benning, Hampton Flukes Photo by Joan Marcus

Written in 1947, Miller’s work is like watching several little playlets in one. Each character is so fleshed out, they become a play within, including the minor characters. Miller’s craft and language is so simple, yet so complex. As the show goes on, each person’s layers are peeled off, until they are left raw and oozing. Miller gives clues along the way that if you are really listening when the bigger picture is reveled, there is no way not to be touched.

Benjamin Walker, Hampton Fluker, Francesca Carpanini, Chinasa Ogbuagu Photo by Joan Marcus

We first meet Joe Keller (the incomparable Tracy Letts), a self-made businessman, his neighbor Frank (Nehal Joshi), who at Joe’s wife’s, Kate’s (Annette Benning) request, has been trying to figure out the horoscope of the Kellers’ missing son, Larry, who disappeared three years earlier, while serving our country during World War II. Kate desperately believes that Larry is still alive. Their other son, Chris (Benjamin Walker), has brought the girl-next-door, Ann Deever (Francesca Carpanni), back home to marry him. He knows his mother will not take this well as she is also his brother’s girlfriend. To make matters more complicated, both Joe and Ann’s father, Steve Deever, were sent to prison for selling cracked cylinder heads to the Air Force, causing the deaths of 21 pilots in plane crashes. Joe has been exonerated of the crime; Steve is still in prison.

“I know you’re no worse than other men, but I thought you were better. I never saw you as a man…I saw you as my father.” Chris to Joe

Tracy Letts, Benjamin Walker Photo by Joan Marcus

Chris, an idealist, is dealing with survivors’ guilt, as he lost all his men. When George (Hampton Fluker), Ann’s brother, calls saying he is arriving, their next-door neighbor, Sue (Chinasa Ogbuagu) reveals to Ann that everyone on the block thinks Joe is still guilty. When George arrives, he insists his sister Ann cannot marry Chris because he set their father up. At first, Joe denies this, but when Chris learns the truth, he flees. When he returns, Ann reveals a letter from Larry, that seals all their fates.

“Your brother’s alive, darling, because if he’s dead, your father killed him. Do you understand me?” Kate to Chris

The scenes between Tracy Letts and Benjamin Walker are riveting. Letts understands how to make a character so real and Walker is the embodiment of a young Jimmy Stewart. We feel for them both as they are stuck in their own generational versions of hell. Letts’ denial is masked by his flirtatious manner, but we see his prison once we open our eyes to what lies beneath his demeanor. Annette Benning’s portrayal is stripped-down strength. Again, what this production does best is show us looks can be deceiving. But it is Walker, whose idealistic torture, want of something more, and loss of innocents affects us. He is this country struggling for its humanity.

Scenic designer Douglas W. Schmidt’s depiction of the Keller’s backyard, lush with greenery but torn apart adds to the overall picture, as does the lighting by Natasha Katz. Jeff Sugg’s video and projection designs of planes falling out of the sky, lighting and static, are haunting.

Denial, seeing beyond what is in front of our eyes, and being told lies in the sweetest of voices is difficult to discern. Miller’s words and O’Brien’s production is asking us to do just that. It is also showing us that our upbringing causes us to sometimes make discussions that may be disastrous, and we all live in prisons of our own making. This is a play that gets more powerful the older you are, and this production is not to be missed.

All My Sons:Roundabout: American Airlines Theatre

Broadway

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

More in Broadway

Meet My Casting Choice For Moulin Rouge Lea Seydoux

Suzanna BowlingApril 20, 2021

Broadway Actors March On Broadway As Broadway Fights Back Against Decade Long Problem

Suzanna BowlingApril 20, 2021

Is Sutton Foster The Reason Scott Rudin Stepped Down…. Move Over a Better Casting Choice Is Adele

WriterApril 19, 2021

Death By Baked Potato The Legacy of Scott Rudin

Suzanna BowlingApril 18, 2021
Stephen Sondheim

What to Watch in The New Year: April 15

Suzanna BowlingApril 15, 2021

John Cullum’s An Accidental Star is Personable and Full Of Theatre History

Suzanna BowlingApril 13, 2021

Ask Bob Blume –Column #54 – Fun Memories of Drama Desk Awards By An Executive Producer

Bob BlumeApril 12, 2021

Classic Stage Company Celebrates Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Assassins With Star Studded Benefit

Suzanna BowlingApril 11, 2021

Theatre News: André De Shields, Broadway Vaccination, The Shuttered Venue Grant Program Shut Down,GTG Celebrates The Bard’s Birthday, Happy Birthday Shakespeare-457

Suzanna BowlingApril 10, 2021