Inspired by a true story, author Arthur Miller crafted ALL MY SONS as his last and best effort to succeed as a playwright on Broadway. After a resounding flop on the Great White Way, Miller was just inches away from throwing in the towel and leaving writing to others. Happily, his efforts finally paid off in a big way. Miller’s script was paired with Elia Kazan’s direction to produce a Broadway hit which cemented Miller’s reputation as one of America’s greatest living American authors. And what of that little article sandwiched in an Ohio newspaper which just happened to come to Miller’s attention? It seems that the newspaper reported a World War II conspiracy between 1941 and 1943 in which defective aircraft engine parts slated for battlefield use were approved – resulting in the subsequent conviction of three Air Force officers for neglect of duty. Little did Miller and Kazan realize that the play and their left-leaning philosophy would lead to both being called before the House of Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s.
In his Tony award-winning play, Arthur Miller created a post-war American family in a tragic downward spiral over material greed, lies, love, and loss. This is an ethical powerhouse which demands that the viewer evaluate himself, his neighbors, and the sons and daughters growing up in a conflicted era. Even then, the ramifications might be difficult to anticipate.
It is 1946 in an American town in the Midwest. The successful owner of a large multi-purpose factory, Joe Keller (Philip Bartolf) harbors secrets in his past which he hopes never see the light of day. Meanwhile, his wife Kate (Patricia Butler) lives in her own fantasy world awaiting the return of her older son Larry, a pilot reported MIA three years before during World War II – and surely long dead. Joe’s younger son Chris (Calvin Picou) has become his partner in the business. All appears to be calm in the household until Chris decides that he wants to marry Ann Deever (Allison Lynn Adams), who just happens to be the daughter of Joe’s former partner, now incarcerated for supplying the Air Force with defective engine parts which led to the death of 21 pilots. On top of that, Ann was his MIA brother’s girlfriend three years ago.
To add fuel to the mix, Joe was arrested along with his partner Steve Deever when the conspiracy was discovered – but Joe was exonerated while Steve was convicted. Now Steve is scheduled for imminent release, and his attorney son George (Shawn K. Summerer) has gone to visit him in prison. To further complicate matters, Chris admits to suffering from survivor’s guilt because almost everyone in his army company except him died in battle. A forever hopeful mother, Kate thinks that Ann should wait for Larry’s return and is vehemently opposed to a marriage between Ann and her younger son Chris. And, finally, there are people in town who believe that Joe was guilty of the crime. When this complex fabric begins to unravel, secrets will spill out; and lives will be changed forever.
Working with Miller’s superb script, director Ben Lupejkis helms a moving production which does not for a moment appear to be dated or out-of-sync with today’s values. The four leading actors (the Keller trio and Ann) portray each character with passion and skill. Set designer Ben Lupejkis has developed an intimate set reflecting these pivotal hours in everyone’s life. ALL MY SONS reveals yet again the consummate skill of playwright Arthur Miller. Besides that, it is involving and entertaining in its own special and tragic way.
ALL MY SONS runs through February 11, 2023, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays (one pay-what-you-can performance on Saturday, 1/21/23 at 2 p.m. with open seating). The Westchester Playhouse is located at 8301 Hindry Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90045. Tickets are $22 ($2 discount for seniors and students available online). For information and reservations, call 310-645-5156, bo*******@ke*************.org">email the theater, and/or go online.