`All My Sons' is worthwhile

Drama: Moonlight Troupers gives a powerful performance of Arthur Miller's first major play, which was set in 1947.

April 22, 1999|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Moonlight Troupers brings us extraordinary theater in its production of Arthur Miller's powerful drama "All My Sons," now on the boards at Anne Arundel Community College.

The troupe has put together skilled and professional staging and paid meticulous attention to detail that extends to the sets, lighting and the Glenn Miller music heard as the play begins.

Director Barbara Marder deserves high praise for this artistic triumph. Robert Kauffman's set design, lighting and technical expertise contribute to the success of the production.

"All My Sons," Miller's first major play, can be criticized for being too formulaic, with stock characters' conflicts moving the action forward. But such criticism pales beside the searing passion the young playwright expressed.

Set in 1947, "All My Sons" is historically fascinating because Miller foresaw the corrupting influence the materialism of the American dream could be.

He reveals the high price of that dream through Joe Keller, the owner of a World War II airplane parts plant who allowed defective cylinder heads to be shipped to the government, leading to the death of 21 American pilots, and who rationalized it by saying he was providing for his family.

Mike Smith is powerful in the role, jovial at first, then lashing out in anger at his family. He conveys his character's conflicts by transferring his guilt to his wife and son.

Robert Reichert is convincing as Joe's son, Chris, an idealistic young veteran who is devoted to his parents and whose talk of the unselfishness and reliability of wartime comrades is the antithesis of his father's mercenary cynicism. His characterization helps us comprehend how much those soldiers trusted each other and how they would have despised a manufacturer who shipped faulty cylinder heads.

As Joe's wife Kate, Anita Gutschick gives a consummate portrait of a woman in denial. She can't admit that her other son, Larry, missing in action for three years, is dead without blaming her husband.

"He's not dead, so there's no argument," she says repeatedly.

Andi Jones plays Ann Deever, Larry's fiancee and the daughter of Steve Deever, Joe's business partner, who was jailed on charges stemming from the cylinder head fiasco.

Her role is pivotal as she reads Larry's last letter, written the day he left on the mission he never came back from, in which he tells her he had learned of the defective cylinder heads from newspaper reports.

"All My Sons" can be seen at Pascal Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $8 for adults to $6 for students. For reservations, call 410-541-2457.

Pub Date: 4/22/99

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