All My Sons – the first great success of Arthur Miller’s supremely influential career – is a compelling story of love, guilt and the corrupting power of greed.
Joe Keller (David Suchet) is alleged to have supplied World War II fighter planes with defective engines, leading to the deaths of innocent pilots – a crime for which his business partner took the fall. One of Keller’s sons, himself a pilot, is thought to have been killed in action. But his mother (Zoe Wanamaker) can’t accept his death and equally, can’t accept that her dead son’s fiancee has transferred her affections to her other son. The confrontations that ensue lead to the uncovering of a shameful family secret…
All My Sons Press Reviews:
It was once said that “cover-up” is the great theme of American drama, and Miller’s 1947 play, which established his reputation and is now hailed by some – David Mamet, for instance – as his true masterpiece, contains the mother of all cover-ups. Joe was an ambitious manufacturer of household and industrial goods in the war – including a batch of faulty cylinder heads that caused the death of 21 pilots. Did he know about the fault before shipment?
Michael Coveney for Whatsonstage.com (www.whatsonstage.com)
Zoë Wanamaker is also outstanding as his wife, clenched with grief and driven almost mad by the lie on which her life is based, and there is terrific support from Stephen Campbell Moore as the honourable surviving son and Jemima Rooper as the girlfriend who delivers the coup de grace.
Charles Spencer for Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk)
David Suchet’s superb Joe is a man who conceals his guilt under a backyard bonhomie. He joshes his neighbours, lands mock punches on his loved ones’ faces, and plays the beaming, pipe-smoking patriarch. But, confronted by the truth of his past, Suchet shrivels before our eyes. It is as if the values by which he lives have been stripped bare along with the man himself.
Michael Billington for Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk)
People who don’t like this dramatist argue that that is precisely what Miller himself can’t resist doing. It’s true that there are moments when the themes – the penalties of denial and of putting self and family before the collective good – are spelt out too insistently. But watching Howard Davies’s emotionally searching, expertly acted revival, you’re persuaded that this is a small price to pay for the play’s fierce moral fervour and the psychological penetration of its insights.
Paul Taylor for The Independent (www.independent.co.uk)
Suchet is Joe Keller, an ordinary man with one excruciating flaw. He’s materially comfortable, but his security is the result of canny dealings during the Second World War, and there’s a nagging suspicion that the facade of respectability he’s erected is just one good nudge away from collapsing.
Henry Hitchings for Evening Standard (www.thisislondon.co.uk)
Each time one sees Zoe Wanamaker on stage she gains an extra dimension. Here she plays Joe’s wife Kate as a striking matriarch refusing to believe that her older son Larry died in the war. A woman in denial perhaps, but between her moments of grief and desolation she still invests the character with warmth, even a sense of flirtatious gaiety as an unwelcome visitor threatens the family security.
John Thaxter for TheStage (www.thestage.co.uk)
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