Arthur Miller is widely considered one of the foremost playwrights of the 20th century, specifically exploring issues such as the American Dream and its interplay with truth and integrity in plays such as his masterpiece Death of a Salesman. His earlier, his first commercial success was All My Sons, which is being given a local revival by the Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse through February 11th.
Set a few years after the end of World War II, the play centers around the Keller family, whose eldest son Larry, a pilot who has presumably been killed in the war. Matriarch Kate (Patricia Butler) believes her son is still alive. Younger son Chris (Calvin Picou) returned from the war and took his place working beside his father Joe (Philip Bartolf) in the family business – a metalworks that during the war manufactured plane parts for the government. At the onset of the action, Chris has invited Larry’s “girl”, the family’s former neighbor Ann (Allison Lynn Adams) for a visit, with a plan to propose marriage. Kate is against Ann’s visit, not only because she senses Chris’s feeling for Ann but more pointedly, because it brings back the family’s other moral dilemma – the fact that Ann’s father, and Joe’s business partner, was convicted of selling defective parts to the Air Force, causing the deaths of twenty-one pilots. Kate fears that Ann has come to take revenge, given that Joe was exonerated of the same charges. Chris does indeed propose to Ann, and after their engagement, which is kept secret, Ann receives word that her brother George (Shawn K. Summerer) is on his way to her after having visited their father in prison. As the action progresses, truths are revealed about what actually happened with the defective parts, as well as Larry’s fate – truths that have devastating consequences on everyone.
The cast all deliver strong performances, although one wishes that director Ben Lupejkis had prompted a bit more of an emotional crescendo as the action grows. The standouts in the cast are Butler as Kate and Picou as Chris – both deliver nuanced emotional performances that hit closest to the emotional heart of the play. Adams brings a winsome, 1940s quality to her performance, Bartolf too has a definitive mid-century delivery as Joe, and Summerer evokes much sympathy in his one scene, bouncing between anger and sentimentality with ease. The supporting cast is wonderful – Christopher Aruffo and Lisa J. Salas as one set of next door neighbors and Roy T. Okida and Nadine Booth as the other. Young Amelia Fischer charms as a neighborhood kid in Act One, (as well as introducing the play).
Director Lupejkis, doing double duty as set designer, creates a perfect space on the small Westchester stage, which is ably accented by Michael Thorpe’s lighting and Summerer’s sound design, as well as Sylvia Garcia’s spot-on postwar American costumes.
All My Sons, by the Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse. Through February 11 (performances Friday-Sunday). Kentwoodplayers.org for more information.
Photo Caption – Allison Lynn Adams, Calvin Picou, Philip Bartolf, and Patricia Butler