All My Sons

By Arthur MillerAll my sons by miller

Directed by Kimberly Senior

Produced by TimeLine Theatre

At the Greenhouse Theater

Powerful tragic family drama, All My Sons, is a masterwork of the American theatre.

Considered by many as one of the finest American plays ever, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons is enjoying a stunningly powerful production produced by TimeLine Theatre now playing at the Greenhouse Theater.  Director Kimberly Senior has cast All My Sons with power Chicago actors including Roger Mueller as Joe Keller and Janet Ulrich Brooks as Kate Keller–the family heads.  She uses Mark Richard (Jim) and PJ Powers (George) in strong supporting roles with Cora Vander Broek ( Ann) and Erik Hellman (Chris) to round out the outstanding cast. Add Jack Magaw’s realistic set and Lindsey Pate’s 1947 fashions (costume design) and Miller’s first hit play–All My Sons has all the elements of great drama.

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It is 1947 in a small Ohio town and the Keller family’s life goes on until Chris, the son, announces that Ann Deever is coming to visit from New York. Ann is the daughter of Joe’s former business partner still in prison for knowingly shipping defective airplane parts to the military during  World War II.  We witness Kate as she still deludes herself in believing that her son Larry (MIA for 3 and1/2 years) will one day return alive.  Ann was Larry’s girl but now Chris wants to announce their engagement on this visit.

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When George arrives at the Keller’s after visiting his imprisoned father, secrets explode threatening both the Keller’s and the Deever’s as both struggle to understand what happened at their factory that could have killed 21  American pilots.  Miller’s tight plotting slowly exposes the personality of Joe, Chris and Kate. In the style of Greek tragedy with hints of Ibsen, Miller’s main characters are a complex blend filled with shades of gray as guilt, forgiveness, atonement, survival and rationalization intermix in their lives.  Roger Mueller’s presents Joe as a decent, loving man who believes that family loyalty is everything.  Could he be evil? Mueller’s deep emotional range explodes in a riveting confrontation with is idealistic son, Chris. Erik Hellman delivers a strongly measured performance here.  Janet Ulrich Brooks plays Kate as both the enabling mother/spouse and the delusional believer kidding her self that her missing son will return from the war.  PJ Powers powerfully turns the story with his commanding portrayal of the stunned George. Will all their hopes for happiness be thwarted?

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Miller presents a complex tale that unfolds as a haunting exploration of business ethics as well as a story about responsibility to one’s family verses the moral imperative to the larger society.  Brilliantly, Miller coats the story with layers truth and ambiguity.

The cast, lead by Mueller and Brooks, was respectful to the material as they slowly reached deep levels of honesty that exploded in the climatic ending scenes. You’ll not soon forget this tragically marvelous family drama. This production honors Arthur Miller’s words. Don’t miss it. TimeLine Theatre continues mounting excellent work.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

At the Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL , call 773-404-7336, www.timelinetheatre.com, tickets $25 -$35, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7:30, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, running time is 2 hours, 20 minutes with intermission.