The Theatreguide.London Review
is shaping up as a very strong summer of drama, due in large part to
the early works of three American masters.
and Williams at the National Theatre is a revival of Arthur Miller's
first success, as powerful and satisfying a production as you could ask
for, thanks to Howard Davies' strong direction and towering
performances by David Suchet, ZoŽ Wanamaker and an excellent supporting
just after the
Second World War, the play centres on a manufacturer who knowingly
shipped some defective airplane parts, leading to the deaths of more
than forty pilots, and who is finally through roundabout means forced
to face his culpability.
qualities raise this above the sort of dry thesis play Miller has
sometimes been accused of writing. First, he anchors the play in a
solid reality of everyday life that makes the personal stories, and not
just the moral lesson, grip us and matter to us.
insightfully, he convinces us that the man was operating under what he
saw as the moral imperative of providing for his family - that is, he
did the wrong thing for what honestly seemed like overpowering right
reasons, and therefore never really loses our sympathy.
first, the human reality of the story, Miller not only introduces some
solidly ordinary secondary figures, but complicates the personal
situation. The family lost a son in the war, and now his brother wants
to marry the dead man's former fiancťe, but the mother refuses to give
up hope that her elder son will reappear.
would could be pathetic delusion in the mother a kind of heroic
dedication, particularly when we begin to realise that she is fighting
to sustain a denial of other unacceptable truths as well.
Moore makes the surviving son a living, complex and sympathetic
character, rather than the wooden plot device he could shrink into in
less sensitive hands, and Jemima Rooper brings the girl alive as not
just a pawn in the others' drama but an independent woman determined to
grasp her bit of happiness.
really belongs to David Suchet as the father, fighting to retain his
sense that, whatever the costs of his actions, they were the only right
ones for him to have taken. Even though the character frequently has to
go on the defensive, or bluffly on the offensive, Suchet never allows
us to suspect a hint of conscious hypocrisy.
man is wrong -
Miller's title, implying that he should have felt loyalty to a larger
human family, makes that clear. But Suchet captures and communicates
Miller's tragic vision that a good man can do wrong while thinking he's
doing right and still need to answer for his choices.
production All My Sons works on every level - as moral statement, human
drama, exercise in brilliant acting and a solidly soul-satisfying
can think of no better three nights at the theatre than the Williams,
O'Neill and Miller now on offer in London.
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- All My Sons - Apollo 2010