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‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company

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If you crave a compelling production of a classic 20th century drama, look no further than Peace Mountain Theatre Company’s production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, directed by Laurie T. Freed. This new theatre company’s second season production does the work of one of America’s most acclaimed playwrights proud from their home base at the Har Shalom Synagogue in Potomac, MD.

Charlene Stone, Natatlie McManus and Bill Hurlbut in rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Peace Mountain Theatre Company.

Charlene Stone (Lydia), Natatlie McManus (Sue), and Bill Hurlbut  (Joe Keller) in rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Peace Mountain Theatre Company.

Loosely based on true events, All My Sons opens on the fictional Keller family in late-1940’s suburban Ohio. It has been three years since elder son Larry has disappeared in WWII, and as his brother, Chris, plans to marry Larry’s former sweetheart, Ann Deever, parents Joe and Kate are haunted by a recent scandal in which Joe’s manufacturing company sold defective airplane parts to the US Military, leading to the death of over 20 soldiers. Addressing the themes of family loyalty, moral responsibility, and the observance of social contracts, this play is eternally relevant.

In this production, audience members are seated in the cozy performance space at Har Shalom in front of the platform stage, covered with a well-kept lawn and assorted lawn furniture leading back to whitewashed back wall of the Keller residence (designed by Steven Leshin and Nancy Enyon Clark, and constructed by Bob Shub). The vibrantly colored flowers in charming window boxes and the bright green of the grass contrasted nicely with the neutral browns and blacks of the furniture and the off-white of the house, creating a simple, yet effective backdrop of an idyllic home to be juxtaposed with the turbulent conflict that ensued. Though the lighting design by Peter Caress adequately captured the delicate lights of morning and evening, my eye craved additional layering of color or an organic progression of light throughout the duration of lengthy scenes. The makeup, hair, and costume designs by the cast and director were sufficiently representative of the 1940’s period, particularly in the nipped-waist and a-line-skirt dresses, bright red lips, and colorful yet modest patterns on female characters.

The production’s core of principal performers anchored the drama of the show with balanced dramatic realism that created riveting moments of intensity without falling into melodrama. Though initial contentiousness felt a bit quick to escalate and subside, once the ensemble delved into the core of the play’s conflicts, the tension onstage was palpable and the audience was captivated.

Bill Hurlbut (Joe Keller) and Jeffrey Sampson (Bert) in rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Peace Mountain Theatre Company

Bill Hurlbut (Joe Keller) and Jeffrey Sampson (Bert) in rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Peace Mountain Theatre Company

Bill Hurlbut and Leah Mazade gave standout performances as Joe and Kate Keller. Hurlbut’s portrayal of the charismatic patriarch and artfully nuanced revelations of his underlying complexity were engrossing to behold, and Mazade provided the show’s emotional core as a bereaved and weary yet charming and humorously fussy mother.

As Ann Deever, Julie Janson took the stage with a confident spirit and earnest sensitivity that made for a wholly sympathetic character. David Dieudonne is convincing as Anne’s frustrated and persistent brother, George.

The progression of Chris Tully’s portrayal of Chris Keller from an amiable and plain all-American man to a scandalized and more tempestuous cynic helped to illuminate the theme of the fall of The American Dream that underscores the play’s tragic events.

Leah Mazade (Kate Keller). Photo courtesy of Peace Mountain Theatre Company.

Leah Mazade (Kate Keller). Photo courtesy of Peace Mountain Theatre Company.

The ensemble of supporting characters, including chipper and affable homemaker Lydia (Charlene Sloan) and wise, frustrated doctor Jim (Michael Sigler), created a sense of cohesive community that helped to flesh out the strong realism of the show.

One-hundred years after Arthur Miller’s birth, his powerful artistry still finds a clear voice in Peace Mountain Theatre Company’s production of All My Sons.

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All My Sons plays through October 25, 2015 at Peace Mountain Theatre Company performing at Congregation Har Shalom – 11510 Falls Road, in Potomac, MD. For tickets, call (301) 299-7087, or purchase them online.

LINKS
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 1: Director Laurie T. Freed.

Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 2: Elyon Topolosky.

Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 3: Chris Daileader.

Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 4: Michael Sigler.

Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 5: Natalie McManus.

Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 6: Julie Janson.

Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 7: Charlene Sloan.

Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 8: Bill Hurlbut.

Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 9: Leah Mazade.

Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 10: Dave Dieudonne.

RATING: FOUR-AND-A-HALF-STARS8.gif

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