The Keller House is one with white picket fencing, an immaculately kept house, with smiles, laughter and kisses. With a broken tree at the forefront of the garden, it gives a glimpse into what is happening under the surface of this family. Arthur Miller’s All My Sons is a critically acclaimed tale of love, families and lies searching for normality and calm after the war.
The Don of the family, Joe Keller is a seemingly laid back, jovial sort with an affliction of his son Larry who is missing at war, his son Chris and an unsettled wife. Reeling in the aftermath of loosing their son and the deployment of faulty engine parts for warplanes, the family soon begin to unravel under the immense pressure. The Keller’s are seemingly centre focus of the neighbourhood, with kids and friends popping on by. Larry’s sweetheart, the girl next door, Lydia comes to stay under Chris’s invitation and the Keller’s world start to unravel.
The set design by Michael Taylor of the Keller’s house was vast and all encompassing on the stage at The Rose. A full scale family house was impeccably constructed with every timber in line and every swing of the front door. Remnants of a storm left scattered leaves on the lawn, with Larry’s tree knocked to the ground. The costume team led by Tracy Stiles perfectly captured 1940’s America, the demure and liberating dresses and trousers for women represented an America free from the constraints of war.
The actors were fluid and engaging, slowly revealing the death of their characters and the pain that they held from the war. The dynamic relationship between Lydia (Grace Carter) and Chris (Alex Waldmann) was refreshing and troubled, which was conveyed convincingly and solidly. Penny Downie as Kate Keller was heart wrenching and intense as we watched her troubled mind cling on for survival. The dark and curious Joe Keller, played by David Horovitch ignited some reminiscence of the Godfather. Overall the cast were tight, fluid and comfortable with the production. The staging at times was questionable as several times the audience are faced with the actors’ backs at high intensity moments, such as when Kate is questioning Lydia’s life in New York. I think that the audience would benefit more in being able to see Lyida’s face to truly begin to understand and invest in her character from the beginning as that is a vital moment in the story.
Overall as a production All My Sons was a stellar production, raising moral questions and wonders into what risks people are willing to take for themselves and their families.