Sunday, April 7, 2019

Arthur Miller's ALL MY SONS

An idea that I've had for a long time was boosted by Peter Finlayson, the publisher of Footlights, the slick theatre program used by many local theatre companies.  Footlights is professional with ads directing us to other shows in town and an opportunity for Finlayson to make editorial comments about the theatre. He points out that when we go to see a play.. we are not just seeing a play. We become a part of a one time only community who has arrived in time for the curtain to go up, to be swept away from the 'reality' that we face from day to day. We can abandon disbelief to interact with the text, the cast on the stage and our fellows in the audience. This tradition is never the same twice.  This is living theatre. This is literature and art and science and community activity all rolled into one.  We all agree to be civil and participate. Good things.

I mention this because the opening night audience for ALL MY SONS presented in the tiny Lounge Theatre #1 on Santa Monica Boulevard was ready for the experience. Wasatch Theatrical Ventures has pulled out all the stops to present this melancholy American Classic in an intimate setting bringing the ethos and pathos of the story close to the audience. Every nuance, every outburst, every stitch of costume, even the kid (either Jack Heath or Beckett Wilder as Bert) who makes a brief appearance, arrive with authenticity.  
 The rhythms and language of Arthur Miller's 1947 play toll the post war feelings of the day: the issues of ethics and how deceptions and their revelations shape our lives. 
Jack Tynan, Alexis Boozer Sterling, and James McAndrew Photo by Ed Krieger

WWII is over.  Chris Keller (Jack Tynan) has, sadly, "lost too many" under his command in the war and is now in middle management of his father, Joe's (Mark Belnick) manufacturing business. Big brother Larry Keller has been missing in action for over three years. His mother, Kate (Francesca Cansale) is beside herself having decided to wait for Larry because it is vital to her that he return to make their lives complete. 

Ann Deever (Alexis Boozer Sterling) was Larry's girl, but Chris has always had deep feelings for her. The complications of Ann's father's partnership with Joe turn the story, then turn and turn again.  Chris is ready to share his feelings and Ann has arrived anticipating that they will, at last, be together.

Where do personal ethics truly lie? What does a father do for a son?   Eventually, we hear through Joe's tears that all the boys lost in the war were all his sons.

Arthur Miller's contribution to world theatre and especially American drama is a huge foundation block for what has come to follow. His well honed real life dramas, including Death of a Salesman (whose tone and language are present in this play) and the extraordinary The Crucible are undeniably important to all theatre.  

Wasatch Theatrical Ventures is and has been dedicated to producing an American Classic once  a year in an intimate theatre setting with the goal of allowing audiences to feel the vibrations of the text and experience the intimate expressions that often escape us in large venues.  It works here, though somewhat over the top from time to time with histrionics that must be vital to the telling of the story. 

Director Gary Lee Reed has purposed his cast well and guided them all to bring their characteres to life within the boundaries of what we might call 'hyper' life that settles into fine tuned portrayals. 

Shon LeBlanc's costumes are 1940s to the last nylon stocking seam and silly hat. Pete Hickock's set is expensive and well done.
Opening night tech skipped a beat a time or two. 
It's an important play and maybe like Brussels sprouts or broccoli .. experiencing this classic is good for us. Eat your vegetables and support this fine production. 

ALL MY SONS  by Arthur Miller
Wasatch Theatrical Variations
Lounge Theatre 
6201 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, CA
Opened April 6, 2019
Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM
Sundays at 3PM
(No performances April 19 - 21)
Through May 12, 2019 
Tickets and information
323 960 5570

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