All My Sons | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

All My Sons 

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All My Sons, Sense of Urgency Productions, at the Viaduct Theater. Arthur Miller's 1947 play raises such issues as the irresponsibility of war profiteers and what's owed to soldiers missing in action. But these questions are less immediate in 2001, perhaps prompting Sense of Urgency's decision to play this classic as family drama.

Director Kerstin Broockmann focuses on Chris Keller, who's determined to marry the woman betrothed to his MIA brother. Concordantly Broockmann reduces the importance of the brother's ambiguous fate, the father's part in his disappearance, and the terrible toll that guilt and uncertainty have taken on the mother. Moreover, whatever weight Miller's diminished universe may retain is undermined by the actors' tendency to become shrill when agitated--especially Jack McCabe in the role of Joe Keller. He lacks the gravity necessary to this patriarch, whose error is ultimately revealed to be the source of the family's unhappiness.

Or perhaps the company's revisionist interpretation--will boy get girl?--is simply not enough to command our attention for two hours. Whatever the reason, Sense of Urgency's production emerges as a singularly unurgent classroom-level exercise.

--Mary Shen Barnidge


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