Do not let the deceptive simplicity of the stunning set design (by Mark Johnson) – replete with lush greenery, white picket fences and flower boxes – fool you into thinking you are taking a trip to a Norman Rockwell painting, for The Keegan Theatre’s current production of All My Sons plunges assuredly into the psychological world of Arthur Miller. Very solidly executed on all levels, this intimate work of Miller still holds much relevance for issues that we are still dealing with today and is an interesting precursor to themes that are developed further in his later plays. The Keegan Theatre has been presenting outstanding ensemble work in the past seasons and this production certainly continues the run of quality fare.
This production very strongly emphasizes the pattern of having each of the main characters living out illusions with fervent, almost rigid conviction – in order to evade the reality, stress and truth of their lives. A father believes that money will buy happiness, a Mother believes that her missing son lives, the other son believes that his Father is innocent, and so forth. It certainly seems as if the astute Director, Susan Marie Rhea, has focused on this. So convinced of their illusions are these characters that one could almost believe you were in Tennessee Williams’ country instead but, indeed, you realize you are in Miller country for there is no grand flights of poetry in the writing (Miller is much more the playwright of ideas) but – oh! – what poetry there is in these performances!
As the protagonist and accused Father, Joe Keller, Kevin Adams creates a memorable and tragic character; Adams portrays the fallible yet striving “everyman” so typical of Miller’s canon of plays. As the idealistic son who wants to believe in his father no matter what he hears, Kevin Hasser is poignant and vulnerable. A standout scene of this production is the point in the play where all illusions are shattered and father and son embrace each other in a familial clutch of both love and loathing. As the Mother, Kate Keller, Sheri S. Herren delivers a beautifully nuanced performance – her stage presence is authoritative yet subtle. The whole ensemble is uniformly excellent with Brianna Letourneau, and Bradley Foster Smith standing out.
Sound Design by Tony Angelini is marvelous – utilizing bird sounds and planes thundering overhead. Lighting Design by Stephanie P. Freed is evocative. The Costume Design by Erin Nugent is particularly impressive with some very interesting and edgy costume choices.
Director Susan Marie Rhea has propelled an impressive cast of players to show the cracks in the American Dream. Do not miss this production of All My Sons!
Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission.
All My Sons plays through December 1, 2012 at The Keegan Theatre at Church Street Theater – 1742 Church Street NW in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 892-0202, or purchase them online.