Thurs 21st - Sat 23rd September & Tues 26th - Sat 30th September 1995
Directed by Damon Wakelin
A regular 'All American' family is in turn haunted and destroyed by the secrets of their past. Arthur Miller's absorbing and deeply moving play described as 'Ibsenesque' in its form, provided the playwright with one of his first major successes.
'All My Sons' was written in 1947 and premiered in New York that year - a production which won two Tony Awards and the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. It was twice adapted for film; in 1948, and again in 1987 and is often credited as Miller's final attempt to write a commercially successful play, after the failure his first play. It is based on a true story which Miller's mother read to him one day from an Ohio newspaper.
The story is set in August 1946 and revolves around the Keller family. Joe Keller is married to Kate. A successful businessman, he harbours a guilty war secret. One of their sons, Larry, has been missing in action for three years, and Kate still believes Larry will be found one day, so much so in fact that she refuses to allow any of her family to believe that Larry is dead. However, Larry's brother, Chris, wants to marry Larry's former girlfriend, Ann. If Chris marries Ann then Kate has to admit that Larry is really dead, and that in turn puts her relationship with her husband at risk.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Joe Keller||David Penrose|
|Dr Jim Bayliss||Pete Woodward|
|Frank Lubey||Neil Pugmire|
|Sue Bayliss||Sally Hartley|
|Lydia Lubey||Julie Bryant|
|Chris Keller||Nick Ashton|
|Ann Deever||Juno Hollyhock|
|George Deever||Andrew Caple|
|Kate Keller||Rosemary Sawyer|
|Stage Manager||Gemma Harding|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Daryl Wakelin|
|Lighting Design||Steve Wilkins|
|Lighting Operation||Steve Wilkins|
|Set Design||David Penrose|
|Set Painting||Daryl Wakelin |
|Set Construction||Steve Wilkins|
|Publicity||John O'Hanlon |
|Front of House||Lindy Nettleton |
Maybe Rosemary Sawyer should sue. She gives as electrifying performance as I can remember from an amateur actress - and doesn't even get her name in the programme! Still not much else is seriously wrong with the Bench Theatre production of Arthur Miller's 1947 classic.
Rosemary plays Kate Keller, wife of a man accused of knowingly and fatally supplying faulty aircraft parts in the war, and mother of an airman reported missing and presumed dead. At first she is a model of snappy-voiced tension. The actress then flowers into a vibrant non-sexual flirtatiousness that temporarily renders husband Jo's accuser impotent. In the final act she encompasses grief with a stillness that shouts louder than any grand gesture.
Miller's drama, which concerns the presence of the past in all we are and do, moves from apparent serenity to shocking tragedy. Set and lighting neatly capture the sense of a lazy, hazy American Sunday morning - but Damon Wakelin's otherwise sure-footed direction tends to allow the first act to drift in to sleepiness. It must not be hurried but needs an underlying air of scope for conflict.
The problem might be that David Penrose is just too relaxed as Joe. He seems entirely and admirably comfortable in the role but gives no sense of having a past he would prefer to keep hidden. When Joe briefly explodes with anger early in act two, and when the truth finally emerges, then the performance achieves full dramatic impact. Powerfully expressive performances come also from Nick Ashton as the Kellers' surviving son and from Juno Hollyhock as his girlfriend. The production continues until September 30.
The News, 22nd September 1995