All My Sons at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Set in 1947, All My Sons follows a middle class American family as they deal with the devastating effects of the war: a story of guilt, loss and social responsibility all set between the idyllic picket fences of suburban America.
Joe Keller is a successful businessman happy to put the unpleasantness of the past behind him; after profiting during the war by being involved in the production of fighter planes, he is keen to move forward and carve out a positive legacy for his son Chris. His wife Kate, however, continues to wait for her missing son Larry, positive he will return. When Larry’s former girlfriend Ann Deever returns back to the neighbourhood, she brings with her the dark truth that Joe has been hiding from his family for years.
Arthur Miller is the master of family drama: he explores huge themes and asks the biggest questions all within a tiny scale. All My Sons is a superb example of his complex characters, family hierarchy and his study of the father son dynamic. The play builds quietly, lulling the audience into a false sense of security until the explosive final scenes.
Brid Brennan’s portrayal of the sharp-tongued mourning mother is intense at times, echoing the power of Meryl Streep’s performance in August Osage County from earlier this year. She embodies the dry-witted character with incredible energy and bite, overshadowing all of her supporting cast. Kate Keller is one of Miller’s finest characters and Brennan brings her to life heartbreakingly well.
The set design takes advantage of the stage’s natural surroundings; the falling leaves of the surrounding trees add a symbolic beauty to this traditional play, while the setting sun matches the play’s darkening tone perfectly. The stage is painted in glossy pastel colours often associated with the idealised vision of the suburbs, while underneath comes a mass of groping tree roots casting a more sinister view and echoing the secrets hidden by the characters: an exceptional attention to detail that creates powerful imagery for this tense play to unfold upon.
All My Sons is at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre until 7th June 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.