All My Sons Review – Guilt and Redemption?

Terry Davis and Richard Fancy in ALL MY SONS - Photo by Jeff Lorch

When playwright Arthur Miller happened upon an Ohio newspaper story about a World War II conspiracy in 1941-1943 to approve defective aircraft engines slated for military use, ALL MY SONS was born. Many say that truth is stranger than fiction, and Miller’s famed work proves the point. The subsequent pairing of Miller with director Elia Kazan to produce ALL MY SONS on Broadway cemented Miller’s reputation as one of America’s greatest living American authors.

Amy-Helene Carlson and Marc Valera – Photo by Jeff Lorch

The play takes placed in a relatively nondescript American town in the Midwest. World War II has just ended, and successful factory owner Joe Keller (Richard Fancy) is riding high. But Keller also harbors a secret which could easily lead to his downfall. Meanwhile, his wife Kate (Terry Davis) awaits the return of their older son Larry, who was reported missing in action three years before. In fact, everyone long ago assumed that Larry was dead – everyone, that is, except his mother who keeps her vigil despite all odds. Always the obedient and quiet younger son, Chris (Marc Valera) has tried to fill the gap left by Larry in his parents’ lives. Despite his lack of interest, he has become his father’s second-in-command at the factory and a major support for his forever grieving mother.

Richard Fancy, Terry Davis, and Amy-Helene Carlson – Photo by Jeff Lorch

And then the unthinkable happens. Chris wants to marry Ann Deever (Amy-Helene Carlson), who was his brother’s girlfriend years before – thus very likely destroying his mother’s dreams of Larry returning and forcing her to accept his brother’s death. On top of that, Ann is also the daughter of Joe’s former partner, now incarcerated for suppling the Air Force with defective engine parts which led to the deaths of 21 pilots – a charge which Joe initially shared but which could never be proven – resulting in Ann’s father being convicted and Joe being exonerated. To further complicate matters, Chris admits to a strong dose of survivor’s guilt after nearly all the men in his company died in battle except for him.

Marc Valera, Amy-Helene Carlson, and Scott Jackson – Photo by Jeff Lorch

Working with Miller’s strong script, director Elina de Santos does an excellent job of defining this fractured family as, slowly but surely, their perfect life begins to unravel. The cast does a strong job of guiding the audience inside the heads of these “average American folks.” Dillon G. Artzer’s scenic design sets the right stage, homey and yet hemmed in by a high fence. Jennifer Pollono’s costumes make 1947 come alive. Matt Richter’s lighting and Christopher Moscatiello’s sound keep the stormy story on track. And let’s not forget fight choreography by Ned Mochel (who also performed as the evening’s Dr. Jim Bayliss). ALL MY SONS cannot be revived too often. It remains a pleasure to see Miller’s superb work on stage, especially as interpreted by the expert PRT Company.

Richard Fancy and Marc Valera – Photo by Jeff Lorch

ALL MY SONS runs through November 15, 2019, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays (Saturdays at 2 p.m. on 10/5 and 10/19; Sunday 9/29 at 7 p.m.). The Pacific Resident Theatre is located at 703 Venice Blvd., Venice, CA 90291. Tickets are $29. For information and reservations, call 310-822-8392 or go online.

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