All My Sons

This event has now finished. Until Oct 2 2010

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© Nobby Clark

Time Out says  

Posted: Wed Jun 2 2010

Wartime brings various dangers, of which putting all your eggs in one basket is not generally the most life-threatening. A batch of Joe Keller's eggs, however, turned out to be cracked, and since they were engines for World War II fighter planes, 21 of our boys dropped out of the sky. Keller, unlike his business partner, was exonerated, but for three and a half years he and his family have lived in a sticky mess of psychological debris, exacerbated by their son Larry's status as missing in action.

The war is over, but not in the Keller house: Joe's wife, Kate, is still waiting for Larry, the neighbours smile sweetly at the Keller wealth and bonhomie while looking askance at a man who may be a murderer - and now Chris, the idealistic surviving son, has brought Larry's fiancée (and daughter of Joe's jailed partner) home to propose to her.

Arthur Miller's 1947 play is an extraordinary construction, rising inexorably to a peak of guilty revelation even as it descends into the depths of a man's and a nation's psyche. The questions that arise so often in Miller - what do we owe our fathers, and what can they claim on the debt? - here have the shattering context of the aftermath of a war fought by American boys not, in large part, out of moral obligation but because their fathers told them to (Frank, the Kellers' neighbour, who was forever just too old for the draft, is so uncomplicatedly impressed by his own luck he has become a devotee of astrology).

And then there's the question of money. Keller is a capitalist success story in the fine American tradition of rags to riches - but if he's guilty, then he has sold his integrity and bartered his sons, so the price was high indeed.
As the Kellers, David Suchet and Zoë Wanamaker are astonishing: Suchet a small man with overweening self-belief; Wanamaker a shuffling, stricken woman trying to hold together the smithereens of her family.

Howard Davies's revival of his superb 2000 production looks great - the trees overhanging the two-storey house shiver as if with premonition - but commits the Keller mistake of placing too many eggs in too few receptacles: the two stars occasionally make everyone around them look a little commonplace, particularly Stephen Campbell Moore, whose stiff arms could denote Chris's attempts to shield himself from the horrors around him but who doesn't quite convince as a shining beacon of integrity. When they both leave the stage, the play dims slightly, but it stays bright enough to illuminate a lot of unpalatable truths in that mess of yolks on the lawn.

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Apollo Shaftesbury, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 7EZ

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