In the quaint and suburban backyard of the Keller home, family, friends, and neighbors gathered to shoot the breeze, remember the past, and make plans for the future. The homey atmosphere made it seem like a lot of great memories would happen here, but underneath the welcoming feelings were suspicion and grief.
At the start of the play, the man of the house, Joe Keller (Christopher Applegate), played host to his next door neighbors, Dr. Jim Bayliss (Bob Petrik) and Frank Lubey (Walter March). The good doctor probably found every excuse to escape from his uppity wife, Sue Bayliss (Leighkaren Labay). Frank seemed to just enjoy having someone to talk to about horoscopes, since his energetic wife, Lydia Lubey (Amanda Klein) was busy plugging in too many appliances.
Joe was the kind of man the neighborhood kids looked up to, especially Bert (Jonathan Herbert), a very Leave it to Beaver type who wouldn’t say a bad word and kept a slingshot in his back pocket. Joe Keller was also the kind of husband that calmed his wife and wanted only the best for all his sons, even though he had two sons and now only had one.
Chris Keller (Matthew Danihel) was the one son Joe still had. The father/son chats between Chris and Joe felt natural, but Chris’s words didn’t always match his tone or actions. In Act One, his pleas for help from his father were a little flat, and when Chris talked about his brother he didn’t seem very concerned about Larry’s disappearance, he even suggested his family forget his brother altogether. Maybe it was because Chris was interested in his brother’s girl. We did see tension rise in Chris when he learned the truth about his brother and his father. His anger then turned to grief, making for a very dramatic ending.
Joe’s wife, Kate Keller (Bonnie Kapenstein) always believed both her sons were alive and well and they would one day be together again. She held tight to this belief, no matter how destructive the thought was. There were many sides of Kate: the accommodating neighbor, the concerned mother, and the dutiful wife. Kapenstein richly portrayed all these sides and played an overzealous ying to her on-stage husband’s more laid back yang.
Ann Deever (Kristin Hannings) was the love interest of both Keller sons. Her love story was thwarted by war, memories, and the truth. We saw some very true moments in Hannings’ performance and felt the love Ann had for one brother and could have for another. The touching love scene between Ann and Chris gained momentum and pulled at heart strings until end of Act one, then the two lovebirds sat down for a quiet moment that slowed things to almost a halt, and the moment seemed lost.
Before we met Ann’s brother, George Deever (Zachary J. Palmer), he was described as a wild man on a mission of justice. We waited for this force of nature to burst onto the scene demanding wrongs be made right, but instead he wandered on stage acting very detached and borderline comatose until pleasant memories briefly brought him back to life.
Act Three was a turning point for many of the characters. Joe transitioned from a fun-loving father to a heap of torn emotions. This turn showed the range of dramatic acting Applegate possessed. There was a lot of back and forth that went on between the main characters as they tried to understand the truths that were uncovered and how to remedy the situation while still being able to live with themselves. The results left the audience speechless, with only gasps of astonishment from the dramatic way the play ended.
ALL MY SONS showed the power of family and how our choices can affect others in ways we never thought possible. The strong performances from the cast made seeing the play the right choice.
ALL MY SONS
by Arthur Miller
Directed by Bob DeMarco
March 8-23, 2013
The Village Players of Hatboro
401 Jefferson Ave.