Review by: Peter Foldy
Although many refer to them as the greatest generation, Americans who fought World War II, or whose labor helped win it, had, like all generations, the potential for lapses in morality. Arthur Miller’s classic play, ALL MY SONS, first performed on Broadway in 1947, highlights one such example. Though wrapped in the rhythm and style of the post war years, the incident at the heart of the story is easily relateable to what’s happening in our present day America.
Set in the summer of 1946, the story is deep and intricate. It deals with the Kellers, a nice family, on a seemingly ordinary day. Undeniable truths are finally catching up with them. A life-changing crisis is about to unfold.
Kate Keller (Francesca Casale) is unwilling to accept that her oldest son, Larry, has been lost in the war and may not be coming home. Her younger son, Chris, (Jack Tynan) also a veteran, is recovering from what we now call PTSD. Chris has fallen in love with his former next-door neighbor, Ann Deever, (Alexis Boozer Sterling) and is about to propose marriage. Ann, we soon discover, was Larry’s girl and Kate is dead set against the union. She insists that Ann wait for her oldest son to return.
Wealthy patriarch, Joe Keller (Mark Belnick) and Ann’s father were business partners accused of selling defective airplane parts that resulted in the death of 21 young fliers. The courts exonerated Joe and pinned the blame solely on Mr. Deever, who to this day sits in prison. Joe defends his motives and is reluctant to accept any blame, nor does he seek repentance. Many in the neighborhood doubt his innocence, and when Ann’s brother, George (James McAndrew) unexpectedly arrives, he shares hard to dispute evidence that Joe is in fact the guilty party. From here the play drifts towards it’s heart-wrenching conclusion that will deeply touch all their lives.
Ably directed by Gary Lee Reed and produced by Racquel Lehrman this production of All My Sons is a fluid, riveting drama that draws you in and doesn’t let go. An effective scenic designed by Pete Hickok effectively recreates a 1940s environment but it is the performances that drive this production. The quality of the acting is solid and committed. Everyone on stage gets their moment to shine and there are many standouts.
Beckett Wilder (alternating with Jack Heath) has a brief but impressive turn as a young neighborhood boy. James McAndrew is compelling as George while Mark Belnick as Joe amps up his powerful moments, much like a prize fighter times his punches.
In an impressive performance, Francesca Casale breaks our hearts as the mother who wants her son back while Alexis Boozer Sterling delivers a Doris Day tinged sweetness as the girl who holds a secret nobody want to hear.
Jack Tynan centers the play. His Chris is both the protagonist and a victim here, a man with a moral compass looking for the truth. When his character falls to pieces in the last act, his pain is palpable. Tynan digs deep and makes some vulnerable choices that are filled with pain and emotion.
All My Sons is an American classic and this production at the Lounge Theatre does it right. Bring your handkerchiefs. You’re going to need them.
Where: The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90038
When: 8pm Fridays & Saturdays, 3pm on Sundays (No performances April 19 – 21)
Closing: May 12, 2019
How: For reservations call: (323) 960-5570 or online at: https://www.onstage411.com/sons