NT Live: All My Sons Review- A Miller Masterpiece


All My Sons, remade for the National Theatre, has been showing at the Dukes this week. As an avid Arthur Miller fan – I am an English Literature student after all – I was eager to see it.

The play is set and written in 1947, after the end of World War 2 which affects the central family in the story as one of their sons, Larry is killed in action due to a faulty aircraft; this detail becomes more prominent and undoubtedly integral to the main storyline.

Typical with Arthur Miller plays, All My Sons was very family-centric and features a very proud father figure, Joe Keller, played by Bill Pullman, who endures the typical process of Greek Tragedy also synonymous with Miller plays and as a result of a fatal flaw experiences a hamartia which leads to his downfall from his respectable social standing in society. This action all stems from the intrigue around Larry’s death, which is hinted and built up during the play. The intrigue is also built up from the main characters who all have suspicious tendencies throughout and imply that they know more about Larry’s death than they care to let on, until the ultimate reveal in the final moments of the play.

Image couresty of National Theatre via Flickr

The play is a Miller classic, and there is very little I can fault, the only negative comment I would give would be on the American accents. British actors – of which this play features many – are notoriously bad for imitating American accents and besides Colin Morgan’s surprisingly accurate accent, the rest of the cast presented forced and exaggerated accents throughout the duration of the play which was the only aspect of the performance that made it, at times, hard to watch. Besides this, the acting from a fantastic cast like the aforementioned Colin Morgan, Jenna Coleman, Bill Pullman and Sally Field was stellar. At times, on the part of Sally Field, intense, as she portrayed Larry’s distraught mother who, even several years after her son’s disappearance and presumed death, cannot accept he is gone, behaviour which puts a strain on the family.

All My Sons also succeeded in keeping the audience on it’s toes with several plot twists throughout, two of which were delivered towards the end of the play when the audience discover how Larry died and more distressing, who is responsible which, in true Miller style, leads to the death of the central father figure, Joe Keller.

One thing Arthur Miller excels at in this play is the destruction of the idealistic American Dream as the idea that those who work can be successful is destroyed with the fact that this comes at the expense of family. In a heartbreaking moment at the end of the play, the family breaks down when it is revealed how Joe was involved in the death of his son Larry, leading him to lose the love and respect of his only remaining son, Chris (Colin Morgan).
To summarise, Miller’s masterpiece is a testament to family and the brutal destruction of the family and cultural ideals we would all like to hold dear.

To summarise, Miller’s masterpiece is a testament to family and the brutal destruction of the family and cultural ideals we would all like to hold dear.

For more live broadcasts, visit the Dukes website at dukes-lancaster.org

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