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4 minutes reading time (719 words)

Review: Arthur Miller’s All My Sons

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Arthur Miller’s All My Sons
 
Big credit goes to the Elite Theatre for bringing in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, one of the great classics of post-War American theatre. The play is multi-layered, dynamic, timeless, and superbly written. A must-see for all theatre fans.
 
 
Allen Gardner and Jim Seerden. Elite Theater Co Oxnard, CA
 
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Kate Keller confronts her husband Joe in the classic American drama "ALL MY SONS" with Theresa Secor and Jim Seerden. Elite Theater Co Oxnard, CA
 
Review
Arthur Miller’s All My Sons
 
Big credit goes to the Elite Theatre for bringing in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, one of the great classics of post-War American theatre. The play is multi-layered, dynamic, timeless, and superbly written. A must-see for all theatre fans.
 
Miller began writing the play in 1941, a particularly dark year during World War II. The war had been waged for over two years without a single major victory on the battlefield for our allies while at home the hardships of rationing, a complete lack of rubber for tires and sealing parts, with heavy shortages of sugar and other essentials were being felt across all of North America. By the time Miller finished writing the play and it premiered on Broadway in 1947, times had changed drastically with Allied victory and great optimism was sweeping the land as the beginning of a long surge in American industry and rapid growth of the American middle class began. 
 
Some of the original darkness and pessimism remained in Miller’s final draft, while he added a new element: the beginnings of his career-long project of examining the underbelly of the American suburban middle class. However, the psychologically-charged drama of the play carried the day and the play was a great success with audiences, propelling Miller into the top rank of American playwrights; a status firmly cemented two years later with The Death of a Salesman. Miller claimed that All My Sons was only saved by a positive review from the New York Times’ influential critic, Brooks Atkinson. Miller need not have worried: the play netted Miller his initial Tony, for Best Author, later that year.
 
Contemporary audiences tend to view the play with considerably more distance than its original audiences would have had and tend to be less touched by the play’s darkness, which is minimal compared to a lot of more contemporary material. To a contemporary audience the play reads as a more timeless confrontation between competing desires within several interlocked families, conflicts between idealism and pragmatism, and the resulting compromises individuals believe they have to make to carry on with their lives.
 
In other words, today’s audiences tend to see the play as much more touchingly human; an exciting classic American drama where Miller deftly keeps us guessing about a lot of things right up to the very end. 
 
Though masterfully written, the play is ambitious and presents some steep challenges for the actors. This is not an easy play for a community theatre to put on; it requires significant acting resources. The Elite company for the most part rises to the challenge, though at times erring on the side of over-doing things in both the blocking and the acting.
 
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 Allen Gardner, Jim Seerden and Sarah Boughton. Elite Theater Co Oxnard, CA
 
Particularly strong work is presented by Kelly Whittaker’s superb Ann Deever, Jim Seerden’s Joe Keller in his wonderful-to-watch Elite Theatre debut, and Eric Mello’s enraged George Deever, who delivers the appropriate catalytical combustion leading to the play’s climax. Seerden and Whittaker’s off-line work is particularly good as well, which helps lift the quality of the entire ensemble. Theresa Secor gives us an especially sympathetic Kate Keller.
 
Scott Blanchard’s Jim Bayless, Mike Gerbi’s Frank Lubey, Jolyn Johnson’s Sue Bayless, Sarah Broughton’s Lydia Lubey, Allen Gardner’s Chris Keller, in many ways the emotional center to the play, and Wesley Umali’s Bert Bayless round out the rest of the cast.
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All My Sons by Arthur Miller
Directed by Brian Robert Harris
Produced by Vivien Latham
Staring Jim Seerden, Theresa Secor, Kelly Whittaker, Allen Gardner, Scott Blanchard, and Eric Mello; with Mike Gerbi, Jolyn Johnson, Sara Broughton, and Wesley Umali
at the Elite Theatre Company
at 2731 South Victoria Avenue, Oxnard
14 October through 13 November
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm
Box office at 805.483.5118
www.elitetheatre.org
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Thursday, 29 October 2020
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