All My Sons - New Theatre (NSW)
Written by Arthur Miller. Directed by Saro Lusty-Cavallari
Reviewed by Juliana Payne
New Theatre, Newtown
25th April - 27th May, 2023 Tickets: https://newtheatre.org.au/all-my-sons/
- All My Sons makes you want to look away but you simply cannot. Families are just the worst -
In a bar in the afterlife somewhere, Sigmund Freud and Sophocles would probably be arguing over who had the most influence on Arthur Miller as he wrote his classic play All My Sons. With a full complement of fraught familial relationships that would make Freud sweat, and a dramatic structure and trajectory to make an ancient Greek frisky, this play is not “a nice night’s entertainment”. It is however a strong and engaging production, that renders the complexity and tragedy of our flawed humanity in sharp relief. This is the kind of performance that helps us understand ourselves and our fellow humans a bit better. Or it should. Part of our human condition seems to be that we just never learn.
Set in 1946 in America, World War II has just ended, and we watch the awful inevitability of the Keller family’s devastation, which has the terrible added bitterness of being mainly self-inflicted. Their seemingly idyllic life is shattered when a dark secret from their past comes to light, exposing their guilt and shining a light on the lies they’ve been telling themselves and other people for years.
Photos © Chris Lundie for New Theatre
Like a Greek tragedy, we have a moment of sunny exposition before we are plunged into the real meat of the play. And like a Greek tragedy, all the action is off stage; what we see play out before us is utterly dependent on the language of the play and the skills of the actors. The dialogue for the most part is deceptively simple, and often masks more than it reveals. As the plot progresses and the scales slowly fall away from people’s eyes, the language opens out and expands, as does their emotions of grief, despair, and guilt. The cast in this production pay tribute to the power of Miller's writing with some exceptional acting.
Kath Gordon as Kate Keller is outstanding as the matriarch of the family, the pole around which they all revolve. She portrays the character with depth and nuance, making the audience feel her pain and inner turmoil like a cross between Lady Macbeth and Medea. Bridget Haberecht as Anne was also a stand-out. Greg Poppleton as Joe and Kyle Barrett as Chris grappled with a difficult and complex father and son relationship and gave the audience a heartfelt and genuinely evocative performance, even though the result was awful. Hats off to the whole troupe for this performance.
Set designer Kate Beere and lighting designer Aron Murray set up some stunning atmospherics at the beginning to get us in the zone, with dark shadows, the ominous drone of warplanes overhead and Gordon silhouetted alone on stage in an evocative portent of what’s to come. Director Saro Lusty-Cavallari kept the pace brisk and managed to not have actors standing around like statues whilst others were delivering their speeches. The stage was full of personal tragedies that gripped our attention – we wanted to look away but we couldn’t. Families are just the worst.
CREATIVE TEAM Director & Sound Designer Saro Lusty-Cavallari Set Designer Kate Beere Lighting Designer Aron Murray Costume Designer Eleni Chrysafis Assistant Director Lucy Burke Stage Manager Freddie Fitzpatrick-Lubowitz Assistant Stage Manager Atlas Andrews
CAST Kyle Barrett, Kath Gordon Liam Greinke, Bridget Haberecht Michael Harris, James Hartley Greg Poppleton, Mariah Stock Kaitlyn Thor, Jack Waters