Tag Archives: All My Sons

All My Sons

1 May

Arthur Miller’s All My Sons premiered in 1947 (yes, over seventy five years ago) but this American standard is still searingly relevant and utterly engaging.

It was originally an antidote to American triumphalism. Following victory in the greatest conflict in human history, Miller was determined his nation didn’t slip into self-satisfied complacency.

The scenario is simple. Chris has invited Anne back to her hometown. She was the girl-next-door, and he wants her and she wants him. But the problem is this: she was once his brother’s sweetheart. Larry has gone missing in the war and his mother, Kate, still awaits his return. To this domestic drama – the universal tension between the way things were and the way they might be, dreadful enough in itself – Miller adds an ethical dimension. The fathers of both lovers were convicted of supplying faulty aircraft components that resulted in the deaths of twenty-one American pilots. Chris’s father, Joe, has since been exonerated, and is now a wealthy man. Anne’s father is still in gaol.

Joe can claim to have been simply “practical”, getting ahead when the opportunity arose, and this might conflict with his son’s “principles”, but Miller suggests this tension is not merely academic. The worm at the heart of capitalism spoils everything.

This is intensely emotional theatre, and director Saro Lusty-Cavallari elicits brilliant performances from his cast. Kath Gordon’s Kate is a deeply moving portrait of obsessive denial. Kyle Barrett’s Chris encapsulates both the inspirational strength of the morally engaged individual and the bewilderment that comes with the realisation that his lone efforts may not be enough. Bridget Haberecht’s Anne is beautifully rich, capturing both the wild hope for a happiness she thought had passed her by and her growing fear at the enormity of the obstacles that remain. Her pain is palpable; it’s an extraordinary performance.  

This is a wonderfully powerful production of a classic play, a necessary indictment of any society in which getting ahead matters more than those that might be left behind.

Paul Gilchrist

All My Sons by Arthur Miller

at New Theatre until 27 May


Image by Chris Lundie