Monday, August 6, 2012

ALL MY SONS / Dreamhouse Theater Company

 Patrick Cavanaugh and Caroline Westeimer   Photo: John Sullivan
All My Sons

Arthur Miller’s success as a playwright stems from his deep interest in the human condition.  Most think first of his Death of a Salesman, the story of failure through the best of intentions mingled with excuses.  Interestingly, Salesman was Miller’s second play following the success of ALL MY SONS in 1947. Evidently, based on a true story of greed and malfeasance stemming from the sale of faulty airplane parts for the WWII effort ALL MY SONS foreshadows the sad tale In Miller’s Willy Lohman with the main character, Joe Keller.  Briefly, Keller (multitalented Ronald Quigley who is credited with the set design) has profited from the war in a suspicious way.  Blaming his partner, Steve Deever, for shipping cracked cylinder heads, Keller is exonerated in court while Deever is sent to prison. 

Dreamhouse Theater Company’s current production of ALL MY SONS at The Jet Theater in NoHo stands with professional productions of the play in many aspects.  Quigley’s spot on exterior of the Keller home takes us to Ohio a few years after the war.  Keller has grown his business after the cylinder head scandal and his son, Chris (Patrick Cavanaugh) is the beneficiary.  There is a bravado in the Keller men.  The matriarch, Kate (Caroline Westheimer) holds out hope that their older son, Larry, will return from the war, though he’s been declared missing in action and presumed dead. The war is now over, yet Kate holds out for the unlikely return of her son. Frank Lubey (Lukas Bailey) fans the flames of Kate’s vigil by declaring that, according to Larry’s horoscope, he could not have died on his ‘favorable day.’

The story, as in other works by Miller, goes down a rocky path of familial strife. A young man seeks his own way out of the shadow of his father’s apparent greed.  Personalities conflict.  Hard feelings are maintained.  Chris wants to marry Larry’s girlfriend, Ann Deever (beautiful Jacqueline Hickel), against his mother’s wishes.  The dialogue is crisp and cutting.  Finding the through line to any kind of happiness is difficult for Arthur Miller and whether or not this play leaves us with much hope is beside the point.  It’s a story of people struggling to survive in the face of ruin.  How Keller is finally revealed as the true culprit in the cylinder head debacle turns him inward with shame and, as later in Death of a Salesman for Willy Lohman, the end is near.

Director Alex Sol (working with his lovely wife, Producer Sarah Sol) is building a strong company of theatre professionals whose youth and enthusiasm are vital to taking a storefront and building a space to present theatricals.  Excellent tech (with the exception of one flash that should be seen anywhere but behind the front door of the Keller home) is flawless.

Arthur Miller’s language is an absolute reflection of the forties in Post WWII middle America.  The cast pulls it off, keeping pace and their individual characters lively and involved.  It’s an intimate space where every nuance of the issues of the story are immediately available.  Small theatre like this deserves an audience.  Tell a friend and experience the joy of a dedicated company with a difficult play.

ALL MY SONS by Arthur Miller
Dreamhouse Theater Company at
The Jet Theater
5126 Lankershim Blvd. (Enter in the back)
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM
Sundays at 7PM
Tickets $25.00
Understudy Matinees August 12 and 19 @ 2PM $12.50
Through September 2, 2012
818 745 7331

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