Theatre Mirror Reviews - "All My Sons"

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entire contents copyright 2005 by Tony Annicone

"All My Sons"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Curtain Call Theatre of Braintree's current show is the searing drama "All My Sons by Arthur Miller. The play takes place in 1947 and is an impassioned wartime saga of the Kellers, a Midwestern family struggling with their secrets and their tragedies. Joe, the father, is a fiercely loyal family man who has built a successful manufacturing firm which has come under investigation for the sale of defective parts to the army. When twenty-one pilots die as a result, he is arrested and tried but 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 he is still alive after three years. When their other war hero son, Chris returns home and announces his engagement to his brother's old girlfriend, Ann (Deever's daughter). His mother becomes distraught and further tension mounts as the fabric of the family is torn. Suspicion arises about a possible cover-up of who was really responsible for shipping the defective parts which leads to an inevitable tragic conclusion. Director Michael Pevzner casts his ten member cast perfectly in this electrifying and emotionally charged drama and their splendid portrayals elicit tears as its human drama touches the audience's hearts, making it a must see show of this season.

The first act tells the events of the past which lead to the confrontation and argument action in the second act. The show begins with a tree dedicated to Larry being knocked over by a strong wind which foreshadows the tragic events to come. Michael builds the tension of the show into a perfect climax where the son realizes his father's guilt. The son breaks down crying after his powerful argument with his father in the first scene of the second act and sobs uncontrollably with his mother at the close of the show. The gorgeous two story house and porch is designed by Jim Gross. The lighting design by Artie Sharpe depicts the different times of the day, afternoon in August then twilight and 2 AM, the next day. The period style costumes are designed by Martha Sawyer with her assistant, Alice Finnegan and the sound design is by Courtney Gallagher and Ed Krasnow and run by Tammy Capone. The stage manager is Michael's real life daughter, Niclole Zanetti who keeps the show running smoothly while keeping the ten member cast on their toes with their entrances and exits all night long.

Brad Pickett does a wonderful job as Joe, who no matter how hard the character tries to covers his tracks, the past always comes back to haunt him, over and over again. Brad makes Joe, jovial at first when he talks to his neighbors and with a small boy by pretending his basement is a jail to imprison all the bad kids in the neighborhood. However as time goes on, he is torn apart by the realization that his actions killed Larry and his brothers in the service, the other pilots, making Joe into the murderer of all his sons. Valerie Sheehy delivers a powerhouse performance as the deluded Kate Keller who has to believe Larry is still alive of her world will fall apart by knowing Joe killed him. She gives Kate the strength to stand up to Joe and anyone who threatens her view of things. Valerie is splendid as she mesmerizes the audience in this role, running the gamut of emotions while doing so. Another magnificent performance is by Christian Potts who plays Chris, the idealistic son who believes the best about everyone until his world is shattered by the realization of his father's responsibility in his brother's death. Christian's argument with the father becomes a physical battle which leaves him in tears as well as the ending of the play with the final death offstage, leaving him crying uncontrollably. These two scenes are emotionally draining for the audience with their poignancy as well as with Christian's interactions with Brad and Valerie, too. Monica Stein plays Ann Deever, Chris' fiancee. She tries to be happy go lucky during most of the show until the final scene where she reveals the contents of Larry's last letter to her. The letter resolves what happened to Larry and puts the blame on the guilty party. Monica interacts with the other performers wonderfully, getting the emotions of this young woman across to the audience with ease. Charlie Cooley plays Ann's lawyer brother, George who returns home after a visit to their father in prison. He plays the angry young man who promises to expose Joe's guilt which he eventually does but the Kellers and Ann choose to ignore it. Charlie makes the most of his time on stage as George.

Rounding out this cast as the neighbors of the Keller family are Mark Logue as the well meaning but discontented doctor Bayliss who knows the family secret, Cathy Larson as his bitchy, back biting, shrew wife Sue who constantly nags him and secretly despises Chris and his supposedly ideal family, Ed Krasnow as the dippy astrology loving haberdasher, Frank Lubey and Courtney Gallagher as his not too bright, baby making wife, Lydia who can't tell one plug from the other on her kitchen appliances. Last but not least is the 10 year old, energetic, ball of fire Jim Sheehy who plays Bert, a young boy who thinks Joe is a detective and squeals on another boy swearing. Jim is Valerie's real life son, proving that talent runs in their family. So for a look back on an award winning show from the past which is still relevant in today's war torn world with Halliburton and other crooked companies looking for short cuts, be sure to catch this topnotch production of "All My Sons" before time runs out. Just tell them Tony sent you.

"All My Sons" (28 October - 5 November)
182 Commercial Street, BRAINTREE MA
1 (781) 356-5113

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide