By Sheila Martindale
Monday Magazine contributor
The time is just after the end of the Second World War, the place is an ordinary backyard in an average American city.
Chris Keller is back from the conflict, but his brother has been listed as missing for three and a half years. Their mother refuses to believe that Larry is dead and thus prevents the family from moving on. Add to this tension the fact Chris is ready to marry Larry’s girl. And underlying everything is a big secret that is ripping two families apart. So this is a typical Arthur Miller drama, which cannot possibly end well; and does not disappoint.
The strength of this play and this production of All My Sons is the amount of real emotion on the stage. Jan Wood and Brian Linds, as parents Kate and Joe Keller, are both riveting and believable. We can sympathize with Kate’s obsession at the same time as being irritated by it; and we are charmed by Joe’s friendly manner and devotion to Chris, even as we come to realize the enormity of his actions on the factory floor.
Chris and Ann are skillfully portrayed by J. Lindsay Robinson and Laura-Jane Tresidder as they deal with their love for each other and the antagonism of their families, to say nothing of the widespread effect of their fathers’ actions. Then we have Michael Armstrong and Cyllene Richmond as the doctor and his wife, with their own agendas and shattered dreams. The one child of the piece is Jude Culham-Keays, who plays the part of young Bert with aplomb.
A word must be said about the very functional set of the backyard, with Muskoka chairs, a nice patio and a small table with café chairs, as well as a creaky swing-sofa. Graham McMonagle is responsible for this, which sometimes accommodates nine actors on the small stage at the same time. Jason King’s sound and projection effects add hugely to the drama of the piece, evoking the difficult times of nightly bombing raids in Europe.
Brian Richmond is to be congratulated on his direction, as he allows the actors much leeway in showing their feelings, but stops them just short of being maudlin.
You will not want to miss this brilliant piece of theatre at the Roxy Theatre at Quadra at Hillside. All My Sons runs until June 10. Tickets are available online at bluebridgetheatre.ca or by phone at 250-382-3370.