ALL MY SONS
by Arthur Miller.
Royal Exchange Theatre St Ann’s Square M2 7DH To 26 October 2013.
Mon-Fri 7.30pm Sat 8pm Mat Wed & 10, 17 Oct 2.30pm; Sat 3.30pm.
Audio-described 19 Oct 3.30pm.
BSL Signed 25 Oct.
Captioned 17 Oct.
Post-show Discussion 1 Aug.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 0161 833 9833.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 5 October.
More than a Black and White issue.
Some years after Arthur Miller’s 1947 play, young Black playwright Lorraine Hansberry wrote A Raisin in the Sun, about a Black American family, with its own tensions, using a windfall to move upmarket into Clybourne Park, thereby bringing a polite racist to dissuade them from relocating into that ‘White’ area. The Royal Exchange gave a fine production of Hansberry’s play in 2010 (though they haven’t done Bruce Norris’s response, Clybourne Park, yet).
All My Sons has always been played on Whites-only territory, so how is it affected now director Michael Buffong has populated it with Black American characters? It’s certainly ahistorical. Dramatically it produces the consideration that America would have been different with its whole population open to gaining industrial as well as house-purchasing power (Joe Keller and his partner, father of the young Deever adults, ran a business with a contract to supply USAF engine parts).
It gives an opportunity to some fine British Black actors. And it does have an impact on the script. What usually seems laid-back, part of a contented society as morally complacent as it is corrupt under the surface (well might Joe pretend to a neighbouring kid that he has a prison-cell beneath the house), acquires an extra level of energy, inherent in voices and delivery. It’s doubtless over-simplistic, but it seems as if these suburbanites’ daily routines are never far from an awareness of uncertainty and disruption.
Miller’s human-wide moral equivocation. Part of the play is about society, part about betraying supposed friends and neighbours. It becomes even keener in a population that’s had to fight in ways others might only be able to imagine.
That sound isn’t Arthur Miller turning in his grave at Buffong and his cast; rather, it’s the playwright wishing to rise and applaud. And who wouldn’t, with Don Warrington’s troubled energy, batting away threats to Joe’s position, or Dona Kroll as Joe’s wife, trying to protect her husband while living though her own self-protective fantasy and hostility to the young woman who threatens her illusion?
Joe Keller: Don Warrington.
Kate Keller: Dona Croll.
Chris Keller: Chiké Okonkwo.
Ann Deever: Kemi-Bo Jacobs.
George Deever: Simon Coombs.
Frank Lubey: Delroy Atkinson.
Lydia Lubey: Bethan Mary-James.
Jim Bayliss: Roger Griffiths.
Director: Michael Buffong.
Designer: Ellen Cairns.
Lighting: Johanna Town.
Sound: Emma Laxton.
Dialects: Mark Langley.
Fight director: Bret Yount.
Assistant director: Alexander Summers.