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. When an Ohio newspaper reported a World War II conspiracy in 1941-1943 to approve defective aircraft engines slated for military use – with the subsequent conviction of three Air Force officers for neglect of duty – Miller realized the implications of such a debacle. And so ALL MY SONS was born. Little did Miller and Elia Kazan, who directed its premiere on Broadway, realize that the play and their left-leanings would lead to both being called before the House of Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950’s.
It is 1946 in an American town in the Midwest. The successful owner of a large multi-purpose factory, Joe Keller (Mark Belnick) harbors secrets in his past which he hopes never see the light of day. Meanwhile, his wife Kate (Francesca Casale) 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 (Jack Tynan) 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 (Alexis Boozer Sterling), 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, she 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 (James McAndrew) has gone to visit him in prison. To further complicate matters, Chris admits to suffering from survivor’s guilt because almost everyone in his 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 Gary Lee Reed helms a brilliant 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 Annie) portray each character with vivid intensity and virtuoso skill. Scenic designer Pete Hickok has outdone himself with an intimate set which amply reflects these pivotal hours in everyone’s life. Derrick McDaniel’s lighting, David B. Marling’s sound, and Shon LeBlanc’s costumes fill the bill with panache. ALL MY SONS is a must-see production which reveals yet again the consummate skill of playwright Arthur Miller. And, besides that, it’s entertaining in its own special and tragic way.
ALL MY SONS runs through May 12, 2019, with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. The Lounge Theatre is located at 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038. Tickets are $30. For information and reservations, call 323-960-5570 or go online.
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