Midland Players invited us to review their opening night of All My Sons at the University of Sheffield Drama Studio, which is a lovely performance space you must visit if you get the chance.
Arthur Miller’s classic All My Sons, a tragedy of the common man is set in post-war America. First produced in 1947, All my Sons remains a powerful reflection on society and the impact of behaviours motivated by a lust for wealth. The multi-award winning play questions the place of morality in a world where the selfish survive best; exploring the relationship between capitalist culture and human decency.
Joe Keller, a successful businessman, lives comfortably with his wife, Kate, and son, Chris. Their only sadness is the loss of their other son, Larry, a pilot who went missing in World War II. Three years later, Kate still clings to the hope that Larry is alive, but his childhood sweetheart, Ann, returns to the town to marry Chris and start a new life. Larry’s loss is not the only part of the family’s past they can’t put behind them. Not everybody’s forgotten the court case that put Joe’s partner in jail, or the cracked engine heads his factory produced which caused it and dropped twenty-one pilots out of the sky.
Playing Kate Keller was Jan Wright who really stole the show with her acting energy and talent, she really nailed her performance and worked well with the rest of the cast. She especially had brilliant on stage chemistry with Sebrina Celia Senior who was playing Ann Deever, who herself delivered a stand out performance and convincingly portrayed the love interest of Chris Keller and the daughter of Joe Kellers business partner.
Oliver Jenkinson gave a stellar performance and really brought home the moral dilemma his character Chris Keller had in being in love with his dead brother’s sweetheart.
Some really charged emotional scenes were delivered to great effect in the second half of the performance by the entire cast. Oliver Jenkinson really hit his stride when Chris Kellers whole world was shaken when the truth was finally revealed. Family loyalty and personal principles are put to the test with the arrival of George Deever played by Richard Delroy. His character was tormented upon visiting his father in prison and hearing his side of the story after not speaking for a number of years.
The costumes and set were authentic and you could tell that the crew paid attention to detail especially the hair and makeup with all the cast having hairstyles appropriate to the time period.
Lighting was used to brilliant effect, especially to enhance the poignant moments of dialogue. The thunder and lightning effects at the beginning really set the tone of the play with a tormented mother longing for the return of her son presumed missing in action.
The background sounds were distracting at first I thought it was the lighting rigs squeaking but then later realised it was meant to be sounds of birds in the background.
All My Sons plays at the University of Sheffield Drama Studio from Wednesday 27th February to Saturday 2nd March, with evening performances starting at 7.30pm. Tickets are £10 and can be booked via the Midland Players website www.midlandplayers.co.uk/next-show.