All My Sons, the post-WWII Arthur Miller drama presented by the Potomac Playmakers, tells the story of how one man’s greed and dishonesty can have far greater consequences than originally meets the eye.
This play, set in small town USA, takes place in the backyard of the Keller family’s home over a 24-hour period. Chris Keller has invited his late-brother’s girlfriend, Ann Deever, to visit so that he may have the opportunity to propose to her. His brother, Larry, went MIA as a result of a plane crash during the war, and everyone, other than the boys’ mother, Kate, believes him to be dead. Since the war ended, Chris and Ann have been writing to each other, and feelings beyond their childhood friendship have developed.
Ann arrival brings a rollercoaster of feelings and emotions. Kate is convinced that since Ann has not married like all the other young ladies have done since the war, she must feel in her heart, like Kate does, that Larry is going to return some day. Ann is also the daughter of Joe Keller’s former business partner, Steve, who is in jail for supplying defective aircraft cylinders to the military during the war which resulted in the death of 21 men. Joe, a prosperous businessman, was exonerated by the court upon appeal of his original conviction because he said he was home sick the day the defect in the parts was discovered and that Steve had taken it upon himself to send them out anyway.
After visiting their father in jail for the first time since his conviction, Ann’s brother, George, shows up to take Ann home. His father told him what really happened, and he wants to confront Joe with the truth and then take Ann away from the Keller family for good. When the family is finally compelled to face the truth of what happened that day and all the repercussions that result from one decision made as a result of greed.
Christine Grable, who plays Kate Keller, is absolute perfection in this role. Her range of emotions, from hopeful that at any minute Larry will come home to utter rage and despair when she realizes what has happened and that he will never come home, makes the audience feel everything she expresses. Her meltdown near the end of the show is absolutely heart-wrenching. Her portrayal of a woman on the brink of insanity is worth the price of admission.
Nic Sigman, who plays Chris Keller, does an outstanding job of going from a loving young man who sees the good in everyone to a son who realizes how much of a toll that greed and maintaining a place in society can cost a family. His fury at his father when he discovers the truth about his father’s corrupt cover-up and the fact that Joe allowed someone else to take the fall rather than facing the punishment he truly deserves is palpable to the audience.
As siblings, Ann and George Deevers, both Dani Popp and Jim Zuna do an outstanding job portraying their characters. Dani is wonderful as a young lady who has held the secret of what really happened to Larry the day he died and, as a result, refuses to forgive her father for the part he played in selling those defective parts to the military, while still trying to find love and happiness in a broken world. Jim is only onstage for a short time, but while he is, he takes command of the stage as the outraged son of a man who has taken the fall for someone he believed to be a friend and business partner.
Barry Harbaugh plays Joe Keller, who appears to be a likeable man who wants what’s best for his family and with whom neighbors enjoy spending time. When the truth first starts coming out, you believe that perhaps he was innocent and that everything he did was for his family. Then as he is confronted with proof of what he did and what it has cost everyone, you realize it was all done for money and social standing. He eventually admits to his part in the sale and you start seeing appearances aren’t what they always seem to be.
Filling out the ensemble cast were Jeff Marcum, Richard Dobson, Jr., April Fox, and Mandy McClanathan as the Kellers’ neighbors. They did a nice job of showing the relationships people had in small-town Americana.
The first act was rather slow-moving as it set up the plot for the fall-out that came in the second act. It seemed like there was some struggling for lines which affected the pacing. However, in the second act, everyone came out strong and really picked up the pace, making this an enjoyable production to see. Director, Cathy James, did a nice job of utilizing the intimate space while stage the show. There were a couple of times where characters were having a conversation in the chairs upstage and she had someone sitting in the rocker downstage of them which blocked the view some, but otherwise, this show was well done. The set, costumes, and lights did well to set the tone of the show.
For a thought-provoking evening of theater, you don’t want to miss the Potomac Playmakers’ production of All My Sons, dedicated to all the men and women who have served in the military.
Running Time: Two hours and twenty minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.