Entertainment » Theatre

All My Sons

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Sep 10, 2019
 Ron Martin and Lynda  DiStefano in "All My Sons."
Ron Martin and Lynda DiStefano in "All My Sons."  

Arctic Playhouse has delivered a powerhouse production of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons," which is set in the aftermath of World War Two.

The plot focuses on the Kellers and the Deevers, whose lives have been forever altered by the war. Beyond the pretty exterior of the Kellers' suburban home are dark secrets and deep denial. The action takes place in the family's backyard, where friends and neighbors pop in from time to time to share advice or their personal feelings.

The central conflict is between Joe Keller and his son Chris, who wants to marry Ann Deever (Carolyn Coughlin), the daughter of Joe's imprisoned business partner Steve. During the war, Joe and Steve sold defective airplane parts to the military. Twenty-one Army pilots died as a result. Joe was exonerated, but Steve took the fall.

The Kellers are also mourning the loss of son Larry, who never returned from the war.

Joe's wife Kate (Lynda DiStefano) refuses to believe her son is dead and voices her opposition to Chris marrying Ann, who was Larry's fiancée.

Adding more drama to the Keller's lives is the appearance of Ann's brother George, who insists their father is innocent and points the finger of blame at Joe.

Like Miller's "Death of a Salesman," the story explores the dark side of the American Dream. Joe has run a successful business, but that success has come with a huge cost. Secrets are revealed, which leads to a violent confrontation between Joe and Chris.

Director Tony Annicone ("Last of the Red Hot Lovers") coaxes outstanding work from his cast and maintains a sharp sense of pacing.

The performances by Ron Martin as the affable Joe and Chris Ferreira ("The Diary of Anne Frank") as the troubled Chris are completely convincing. Martin and Ferreira show the inner torment of these men as they bare their souls to each other in a moment late in the play. The breakdown of this relationship is haunting and deeply sad.

DiStefano and Coughlin are always compelling to watch as women who are struggling to deal with events of the past. Kate and Ann are headstrong and refuse to back down from their beliefs.

Michael Pugliese is also excellent as George, who harbors years of resentment toward Joe because of what happened to his father in prison.

The tragedy at the heart of "All My Sons" is due to the effect of the war on not only the men who fought in it but also on the lives of the families they left behind. The Kellers are dealing with the loss of one son and the guilt faced by another.

Joe's life transforms from something idyllic to an almost Shakespearean tragedy. He is a man doomed by his failures and resented for his good fortune.

The quality of the writing and the acting makes "All My Sons" into a first-rate entertainment.

"All My Sons" runs through September 27. The Arctic Playhouse. 117 Washington Street, West Warwick, RI. For tickets, visit thearcticplayhouse.com.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.


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