ALL MY SONS at Stagecrafters: WWII Family Drama Still Touches Hearts Today

by Paul Trimbur

E. Ashley Izard, Marc Schule, Patti Moore and Patrick Martin in The Stagecrafters' ALL MY SONS, running in Chestnut Hill (Philadelphia), PA through February 19.

ALL MY SONS was only the second play that Arthur Miller wrote; it is based upon a true story. While Miller’s first play THE MAN WHO HAD ALL THE LUCK lasted only four performances on Broadway; ALL MY SONS was a hit and ran for over 300 performances in 1947. WWII was still very fresh in everyone’s mind in 1947; but 65 years later the themes of family and lack of responsibility still ring true.

This three act play started with a 40 year old mild mannered man in a suit and bow tie smoking a pipe and leaning against the side of the stage. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to be the narrator for OUR TOWN with a set; or a Mr. Rogers type? This character, Dr. Jim Bayliss, is the next door neighbor to the Keller family and a medical doctor played by Jim Broyles. Andrew Mooers portrays Frank Lubey who is the neighbor on the other side of the Keller family; he plays this character as very simple (but comes off at times as one brick shy of a full load). With neighbors like these, Joe Keller and his family appear almost normal.

Directed by Catherine Pappas the Stagecrafters’ production gives us the Keller family; at first glance they are like a slightly bruised Vidalia onion but once the layers were peeled back the sweetness had dissipated and only tears remained. The storyline unveiled like a striptease; it held your interest and kept you waiting and wanting to see more.

E. Ashley Izard and Marc Schule star in Arthur Miller's ALL MY SONS at The Stagecrafters.

Joe Keller (Marc Schule) as father of the family wears his heart on his sleeve; his love for his family is his life. Schule did a good job depicting Keller’s aging and growing weariness as a result of taking care of his family. Kate Keller is the family matriarch and is played by E. Ashley Izard as a strong woman who is mentally fatigued. Chris Keller (Patrick Martin) is their son who is over 30, lives at home and helps his father run the factory. He loves his parents and tries to take care of them in his own way; Martin gives a strong performance.

The Deever family used to live next to the Keller family until their father Steve went to jail; they then moved to New York. The Deever children have come back for their own reasons. The daughter, Ann Deever (Patti Moore) reminded me of Brooke Shields and gave a solid performance. The son, George Deever (A. S. Alex Freeman), was uneven in characterization. There are three other characters on stage: Lydia Lubey (Elsye Brier) is the wife of neighbor Frank and seems to be drinking too much happy juice; Sue Bayliss (Adrienne Cascareela) is the wife of neighbor Dr. Jim Bayliss and got an extra dose of sour grapes; and Bert (Ryan Scott Swann) a neighborhood kid who is a tattletale.

As with many of Miller’s plays, there is a lot of information to take in about his characters; but as the play develops and each layer is peeled away his depth is revealed. Go see this interesting show and I promise you will go home with more appreciation for your own family and neighbors.

Written by Arthur Miller
Directed by Catherine Pappas
February 3 – 19, 2012
The Stagecrafters
8130 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118
215-247-9913 – Reservations

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