All My Sons | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

All My Sons 

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All My Sons

Lara Goetsch

Arthur Miller's 1947 Broadway hit lacks the iconic status of his later dramas, Death of a Salesman and The Crucible, but TimeLine Theatre's engrossing revival proves it can still pack a punch. Strongly influenced by Ibsen and Greek tragedy, it's the story of a prosperous, seemingly content small-town family haunted by guilt. Factory owner Joe Keller allowed a batch of defective airplane parts to be shipped to the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, leading to the deaths of 21 pilots—and then let his business partner take the rap. Joe's wife, Kate, clings to the hope that their son Larry, himself an airman reported MIA, is still alive somewhere, while the surviving son, Chris, wants to bury the past and marry his late brother's girlfriend, Ann, the daughter of Joe's imprisoned former partner. Under director Kimberly Senior, this production—with its atmospherically lit set, period-perfect costumes and hairstyles, and evocative music—grounds the action in a thoroughly believable environment, and the emotionally intense yet subtly shaded ensemble acting brings immediacy to Miller's play despite flaws in the writing that include heavy-handed religious symbolism and anticapitalist speechifying. Janet Ulrich Brooks and Cora Vander Broek are ferocious as Kate and Ann, whose love for the dead Larry both binds and divides them.

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