She thinks he’s coming back, Chris. You marry that girl and you’re pronouncing him dead. Now what’s going to happen to Mother? Do you know? I don’t.
From what I learned, playwright Arthur Miller (1915-2005) was a genius. Like his contemporary Eugene O’Neill (Long Day’s Journey into Night), he, too, created a body of lasting, literary works art. However, he was also a difficult man to remain friends with. His tumultuous marriage to sexy actress Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) ended when she starred in the arduous and disastrous 1961 film The Misfits, written by Miller and also starred Oscar winner Clark Gable. Miller’s creativity will remain in high regard. The production of All My Sons is filled with secretive layers ready to burst out of its anxious skin and be brutally exposed from being kept in the dark for too long. If it’s one thing the Keller family can do, is keep a secret to the grave. Until, they no longer can.
Though not seen but oft-talked about, Larry Keller, is an ominous presence. Larry went MIA during World War II. Kate (Francesca Casale), his mother, heavily believes that he is still alive and won’t hear anything else. The family, which includes father Joe (Mark Belnick), surviving son Chris (Jack Tynan) and Larry’s fiancée Ann Deever (Alexis Boozer Sterling), await for Larry’s return. The night before there was a bad storm which knocked over a tree planted in Larry’s honor. This gives Kate hope that her boy is still alive. Ann drops in for a visit. There’s a romantic vibe between Ann and Chris but they play it off. Kate is sure Larry will return and everything will return to normal. Chris isn’t as confident as Kate. He wants to marry Ann right away. Soon, more friends come into the Keller’s residence.
Dr. Jim Bayliss (Bill Doyle) and his wife Sue (Jessica Moreno) stop by and quickly noticed the fallen tree. Jim is a doctor inside a medical researcher’s body. He wants to switch careers but knows that Sue will balk at the idea, since that would mean less money and the prestige of being a doctor’s wife will vaporize. He’s smart to keep quiet. Sue, on the other hand sees Chris as a bad influence and would prefer he stay in his lane and mind his own business.
As the day rolls along, it’s evident that Larry is not coming home. Kate is in hysterics. Just as the Kellers deal with one tragedy, another one comes zooming in even stronger than the fateful storm. Ann reveals a painful secret that affects the Kellers. Her father Steve Deever, also not seen but talked about, is in prison for selling impaired cylinder parts which killed 21 pilots in the Air Force. Joe was also involved in that horrific scheme but was exonerated. Ann’s brother George (James McAndrew) a World War II veteran turned successful New York lawyer believed that his father was solely responsible for the lives lost. Then, changed his mind after visiting him in prison and got the real truth about Joe’s involvement. Infused with anger, his new mission is to prevent the impending nuptials between Ann and Chris and expose Joe. All this commotion happens within a 24-hour period.
Miller knows how to turn it up and out with dramatic flair. He does it with a steady ease. What appears to be rushed is disguised in a gentle, subtle reveal making it cringe-worthy to watch. It’s like a crash on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, you don’t want to watch it but you can’t help yourself. The idyllic life of the Kellers soon becomes a matted yarn of messiness and dark thoughts. How they handle this new exposure depends on how the truth is accepted. Joe Keller killed those innocent pilots and Larry, discovering the truth, either committed suicide or fled to start anew somewhere far away. Remember the familiar and amended adage, that the “sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the sons.” Just ask Joe Keller and Steve Deever.
All My Sons plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. until May 11th and Sundays at 3 p.m. until May 12th, at The Lounge Theatre, located at 6201 Santa Monica Blvd in Los Angeles. For ticket information, log on to https://www.plays411.com/sons