Saturday, November 26

All My Sons – Altrincham Garrick Playhouse

It is seventy-five years since Arthur Miller’s play All My Sons was first produced on Broadway.  Three quarters of a century later it is as powerful as it was in the late 1940s. 

Miller’s writing and crafting of the plot is exceptional.  Unlike many of his later plays it also feels the most personal.  The family set up is similar to that of his own growing up, with himself as the younger brother, and the story is based upon a true tale told to him by his mother in law.    It was also his last chance to write a successful play before he gave up playwrighting altogether.  Thankfully it was a success and Miller continued writing until not long before his death in 2005.

The play takes place over a period of twenty-four hours.  Joe Keller is a successful businessman.  During the war his factory was making cones for aircraft that were shipped out to be fitted on the P40 Warhawk, the U S Airforce’s main fighter plane.   One batch of cones comes off the production line with a hairline crack, his business partner Steve Deever, covers the cracks and the parts are shipped out.  Once fitted in the aircraft, the cones fail and twenty-one pilots are killed before the cones are pulled.  Keller and Deever are prosecuted and while Deever is jailed, Keller’s appeal that he did not know about the crack, is believed and Keller is released.  However, while he is in prison his eldest son Larry, is reported missing.  The younger son Chris returns from the war.

It is now three years later and Deever’s daughter comes to stay with the Kellers.  Before the war Annie was dating Larry but she is now in love with Chris, and they want to get married.  However, there are truths to be found out and realities faced before life together for Annie and Chris can start.

The Garrick’s production is nicely set on the simple staging of the Keller’s back yard.  A classic set design along with excellent technical production, make this feel like a production that could be in any theatre in the country.   The majority of the actors are equally good.  David Beddy in the central role of Joe Keller is excellent.  A big gruff man in character, Beddy has the presence and build to be believable as Keller.  Brigid Hemingway as his wife Kate is fine, givng a sensitive performance while Tom Broughton as their son Chris and Katie Cullen as Annie Deever both shine.  Joe Meighan is a brief but well created George (Annie’s brother) but the more minor roles are less convincing.  Never particularly well rounded characters, here they seem merely add ons and unfortunately not that well acted.  Nothing overtly wrong, just not as convincing as the major characters.

Overall, though this is a very good production from a well respected amateur company, and Miller’s play is always worth seeing.

Reviewer: Helen Jones

Reviewed: 14th November 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★