Theatre Mirror Reviews-"All My Sons"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"All My Sons"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

URI's third show of their season is Arthur Miller's searing drama "All My Sons." The show takes place in 1946 and is an impassioned wartime saga of the Kellers, a mid-Western family struggling with their secrets and tragedies. Joe, the father is a fiercely loyal family man who has built a successful manufacturing firm which has come under investigation for selling defective parts to the army. When 21 pilots die as a result, he is arrested, tried and cleared. However his partner, Steve Deever is convicted and jailed. Larry, Joe's son is a pilot who is MIA but his mother, Kate believes him to be alive after three years. When their other war hero son, Chris returns home, he announces his engagement to his brother's girlfriend, Ann Deever, his mother becomes distraught. Further tensions mount as the fabric of the family is torn. Suspicion arises about a possible cover-up of who was really responsible for sending the parts which leads to an inevitable tragic conclusion. Director Bryna Wortman casts these nine roles wonderfully in this taut and powerful human drama. Her talented cast delivers a gut wrenching performance that moves the audience to tears.

The first act tells the story of the events of the past that leads to the confrontation and argument scenes in the second and third act. The show begins with a tree dedicated to Larry being knocked over by a strong wind which foreshadows the events to come. Bryna builds the tension of the show which culminates when the son realizes his father's guilt. The son breaks down at the end of the second act and sobs uncontrollably at the end of the show. The gorgeous outdoor house set is magnificent and so realistic that you believe a real house inside the theatre. This incredible set is by Cheryl deWardener. The lighting design by Jen Rock depicts the different times of day, afternoon in August, later that day near twilight and two o'clock in the morning. The costumes are by Marilyn Salvatore. The combination of all these ingredients create a stunning show blended with the expertise of the cast leads to a thunderous ovation at the close of this poignant and touching show.

Bob Perry does a terrific job as Joe. He captures the angst of the man as the past comes back to haunt him over and over again no matter how hard he tries to cover his tracks. Bob plays him jovial at first with the neighbors. However as time goes on, Joe is torn apart by the realization that his actions killed Larry and his "brothers" in the service thereby killing all his sons. He and Diego have a gut wrenching scene to close Act 2. I have directed Bob three times previously in 1980 as Horace in "The Little Foxes", in 2010 as J.J. Juniper in "Natalie Needs a Nightie" and in 2012 as Mr. Jansen in "Love, Sex & the IRS" and he delivers the goods in dramatic or comic roles. Emma Sacchetti does a wonderful job as the deluded Kate Keller who has to believe that Larry is still alive. If she lets go of this belief then her world will be shattered knowing Joe killed Larry. Emma runs the gamut of emotions in this role.

Another strong performance is given by Diego Guevara as Chris. I last reviewed him as Bernardo in "West Side Story" in 2012 at LaSalle. This character is the idealistic son who believes the best of everyone until his world is shattered by the realization of his father's guilt in the death of his brother. Diego's standout moments include his argument scene with George, his physical confrontation with his father and his emotional breakdown scene with his mother at the close of the show. Devin Vietri, gorgeous red head, plays Ann Deever, Chris' fiancee. She delivers a marvelous performance and her dialogue with her brother is topnotch. Ann tries to be happy go lucky during most of the show until the final scene. This is where she reveals Larry's final letter to her and puts the blame on the guilty party. Devin and Diego have great chemistry together. Louis Perrotta plays Ann's brother, George who returns home after a visit with his father in prison. He plays the angry young man who wants to expose Joe's guilt to the others but they choose to ignore him. Louis' portrayal is brilliant and delivers a topnotch performance while doing so. His change in demeanor when Kate spills the beans about Joe never being sick in 15 years is well done.

Rounding out the cast as the neighbors of the Keller family are Philip Ryng as the well meaning but discontented Dr. Baylis who has an eye for the ladies and knows the family secret, Daraja Hinds as his bitchy, back biting wife, Sue who constantly nags him and secretly hates Chris and his supposedly ideal family, (she has a marvelous argument scene with Devin in Act 2.), Reilly Hayes as the spacey, astrology loving haberdasher, Frank Lubey and Christine Dickinson as his not too bright, baby making wife, Lydia who can't tell one plug from another on her kitchen appliances and also dated George in the past. Bryna ends the show with a tableau of the cast outside the Keller home while the "White Cliffs of Dover" plays during curtain call. So for a Tony Award winning show of the past, be sure to catch the electrifying and riveting "All My Sons" at URI Theatre before time runs out.

"All My Sons" (19 February - 1 March)
@ Robert Will Theatre, 105 Upper College Road, KINGSTON RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide