ALL MY SONS
by Arthur Miller.
Apollo Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue W1D 7EZ.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs: 2hr 30 min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 412 4658.
Review: Carole Woddis 27 May.
Guilt will out in imposing revival.
This spring has produced some stunning ensemble work in London. Two of the best I’d rate as Lynn Nottage’s Ruined at the Almeida and the triumvirately-written A Thousand Stars Explode in the Sky at the Lyric Hammersmith. Now comes Howard Davies’ superb reworking of his award-winning 2000 National Theatre production of Arthur Miller’s 1947 classic, All My Sons.
In part a post-World War II elegy, the play – a story of profit, loss and responsibility – speaks to us now, in a post-Iraq, ongoing-Afghan conflict Britain, if anything with increased power. What, the play asks, is the cost of adhering to a principle that says family first and always; and more, if wars are fought to create better lives what is their justification when soldiers return to find nothing has changed, rather that others have financially benefited?
Miller, contentiously for American audiences, placed this withering analysis within the bosom of the archetypal all-American – and here, quite distinctly Jewish – family of businessman Joe Keller (David Suchet), and steadily strips away every vestige of illusion about the morality by which they live.
Two outstanding speeches by Joe and his former soldier son Chris (a splendid Stephen Campbell Moore) emphasise, in Joe’s case the lengths to which he persuaded himself the end justified the means, and in Chris’s the death of his idealism. But almost every line, when played with such intensity and truth, pushes us into an examination of the compromises we all make in our lives.
Time and again you wonder at the way Miller weaves the philosophical, political and domestic into a unified whole. Sure, the Ibsenesque symbolism intrudes. But Davies confronts it boldly head-on, starting with a great roll of thunder and lightning in William Dudley’s clapper-board and tree-strewn frontage. Zoe Wanamaker’s Kate Keller stares, hears the drone of a plane and looks like a living dead woman – a mother haunted by loss, detached from the world around her.
Time past lives on in time present. The sins of the father, grief and retribution, reach like tentacles, destroying but also, finally, purging. Still a fabulous conscience-pricker of a play, in a white-hot revival.
Joe Keller: David Suchet.
Dr Jim Bayliss: Steven Elder.
Frank Lubey: Tom Vaughan-Lawlor.
Sue Bayliss: Claire Hackett.
Lydia Lubey: Olivia Darnley.
Chris Keller: Stephen Campbell Moore.
Bert: Ted Allpress/Tom Howard/Gabriel Steele.
Kate Keller: Zoe Wanamaker.
Ann Deever: Jemima Rooper.
George Deever: Daniel Lapaine.
Director: Howard Davies.
Designer: William Dudley.
Lighting: Mark Henderson.
Sound: Paul Groothuis.
Music: Dominic Muldowney.
Voice coach: Penny Dyer.
Fight director: Terry King.
Associate director: Bruce Guthrie.