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Raven Theatre Reveals the Morality and Ethics of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons”

all my sons imageRaven Theatre is center stage with Arthur Miller’s Tony Award winning drama. Under the direction of Michael Menendian, All My Sons is the first of four plays in Raven’s 2014 –2015 Season focused on the 20th Century American Family.

Based on a true story, this drama inhales its breath from the old Greek tragedies. Although Miller does not confront government, heads of state, or kings, he does challenge the average man and his family and places them before an American audience in terms of their morality, ethics, and loyalty.  Miller examines the integrity of a businessman who places his narrow duty to his immediate family above his larger responsibility to the people who rely on the honesty of his work.

Menendian richly directs this tragedy, set in a sleepy town after World War II, of two partners in business where one is forced to take moral and legal responsibility for the other and the dire cost to their families. “On the surface, it seems like it’s an ordinary story with extraordinary consequences and that’s what’s always drawn me to Arthur Miller. His ability to have situations where the truth is buried deep down and bubbles to the surface in a way that becomes inevitable for all of the major characters involved and the consequences of what those truths are,” says Merendian. 

Joe Keller (Chuck Spenser) was exonerated after being charged with shipping damaged aircraft engine cylinder heads from his factory during WWII, causing the deaths of twenty-one pilots. When the truth comes out, Joe justifies his actions by maintaining that he did it for his family.

Kate Keller (JoAnn Montemurro) knows her husband to be guilty of the deaths of the pilots and has convinced herself that Larry, her son missing in action, is alive. She will not believe him dead because as she tells her surviving son, Chris, “Your brother’s alive, darling, because if he’s dead, your father killed him. Do you understand me now? As long as you live, that boy is alive. God does not let a son be killed by his father . . .”

Chris Keller (Matthew Klingler) returned home from the war two years before the play begins. Chris’s admiration of his father results in destruction when he finds out the truth about what Joe did. Although said to his mother, Chris’ words are meant for the audience, “Once and for all you can know there’s a universe of people outside and you’re responsible to it, and unless you know that, you threw away your son because that’s why he died.”

JoAnn Montemurro and Chuck Spenser deliver brilliant chemistry in this performance of a family questioning their morality, the ethics of the family business during and after war, and their loyalty in the name of practicality.  Miller’s criticism of the American Dream lies at the heart of All My Sons.

Cast: Chuck Spencer (Joe Keller), Matthew Klingler (Chris Keller), JoAnn Montemurro (Kate Keller), Jen Short (Ann Deever), Greg Caldwell (George Deever), Matt Bartholomew (Dr. Jim Bayliss), Kristen Williams (Sue Bayliss), Shane Murray-Corcoran (Frank Lubey), Hallie Peterson (Lydia Lubey), Daniel Pass (Bert).

Highly recommended, now playing at Raven Theatre through November 15; Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3:00 pm. http://www.raventheatre.com


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