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Theatre Review: All My Sons ****

Joy Watters reviews an 'outstanding production' of a modern classic.

Jemima Levick confesses to little familiarity with Arthur Miller’s 1947 classic before returning to her old stamping ground to direct it. Hard to believe, given her outstanding production of the modern tragedy where the American Dream is an ineluctable nightmare.

Beautifully paced, it sensitively builds to its tragic climax as the terrible secret from the past that haunts the Keller family is revealed. Father Joe’s business is aircraft parts, and during the war he gave the order for defective cylinder heads to be shipped out to the Air Force, resulting in the death of 21 pilots.

Barrie Hunter takes a restrained approach in creating the role from ordinary Joe, sitting in his backyard, to tragic anti-hero. He flails about as the truth emerges, trying to exculpate himself—it was a mistake, wartime racketeering is ok, he did it for his son—until he accepts the wide-ranging consequences of his actions.

Irene Macdougall is magnificent as his wife Kate, who insists that their son Larry, a pilot missing in action, is still alive. Anything else is unthinkable. The pain of her situation is beautifully realised by Macdougall in her portrait of a devastated mother.

Finally, Joe’s guilt is out but in a devastating blow, the cause of Larry’s death is revealed with the arrival of his ex. Ensemble graduate Amy Kennedy gives a fine performance as Anne, trapped in a vortex of emotion.

Daniel Cahill is Chris Keller, the other son who came back from war where all his company were killed. He is criticised for his idealism. Cahill handles the key father-son scene where the truth emerges with a moving blend of rage and sorrow.

Levick has assembled an excellent cast who are curiously placed on a set resembling a playground rather than a backyard.

David Paul Jones’ music is perfect, emphasising the tragedy unfolding but never overwhelming.

Runs until March 9.

Tags: theatre

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