Review: Timeline Theatre’s “All My Sons”

Timeline tackles Miller with outstanding results.

All_My_Sons2

Timeline Theatre presents:

All My Sons
by Arthur Miller
directed by Kimberly Senior
Greenhouse Theatre Center 
Running thru October 4th (buy tickets)

 Reviewed by Oliver Sava

All_My_Sons5 Timeline’s All My Sons is a beautiful, haunting piece of theater. Arthur Miller‘s masterpiece is the story of the Keller family, rocked after the disappearance of son Larry during World War II and patriarch Joe’s (Roger Mueller) trial for shipping defective airplane parts that led to the death of 20 pilots. When Larry’s brother Chris (Erik Hellman) invites Ann (Cora Vander Broek), Larry’s sweetheart, to the Keller house to propose to her, tensions rise as mother Kate (Janet Ulrich Brooks) interprets the gesture as a confirmation of Larry’s death. Meanwhile, Ann’s brother George (P.J. Powers) arrives with shocking revelations from the man that went to jail for Joe Keller, their father.

Exquisitely directed by Kimberly Senior, the cast captures the sense of family that is essential to a successful production by finding a comfort with each other that allows the language to flow naturally. The rhythm of Senior’s production is like a heartbeat: when the stakes are high the show moves at a rapid pace, taking the audience on an emotional sprint as the characters watch their world collapse, but there are also quiet moments when the actors can slow down and absorb the changing circumstances around them. Silence is used remarkably well, such as when Chris struggles to find the words to express his love for Ann (or does he know the words and is afraid to say them?), and when these pauses are broken, intense reality rushes in to fill the gap. The perfect balance of these moments is what ultimately makes the production so captivating, mimicking the diversity of the everyday.

All_My_Sons3Janet Ulrich Brooks shows why she’s been nominated for two Jeff Awards this year with her portrayal of the delusionally optimistic Kate, perfectly capturing the pain of a mother’s loss underneath a facade of hopefulness. From the moment she takes the stage, Brooks exudes a welcoming presence that pulls the audience firmly into Miller’s world, and it is no surprise when she is able to calm the infuriated George and make him feel like a child in her home again. Brooks seems to bring out the best in her costars, and the scenes that she shares with Mueller are bristling with the chemistry of a couple that has been married for decades.
In the earlier scenes of the play Mueller and Hellman establish the father/son dynamic that lies at the heart of All My Sons, a relationship that revolves around their understanding of war and what it means regarding their missing family member. Hellman plays Chris with a youthful exuberance, but underneath his calm exterior is a man that is haunted by the death he has seen, and caused, in his short life. Conversely, Joe lives in a semi-denial regarding the amount of responsibility he had with the defective airplane parts, and when these two characters’ vastly different emotional states come out in full force the results are explosive.

All_My_Sons6Initially, Cora Vander Broek‘s Ann does not seem to fit in with the rhythm that the company has created. She speaks with a calm confidence that is a stark contrast to the other women in the play, but when she consoles Chris as he confesses his survivor’s guilt, it becomes apparent why Ann is different: she has control. Surrounded by women that have chosen to be subservient to the men in their lives, Anne refuses to compromise for what she wants, and the strength of her convictions ultimately leads to the play’s tragic conclusion. The only person that is able to put a dent in Ann’s steely demeanor is her brother, and Powers plays George with just the right mix of compassion for his sister and disdain for the Kellers so as to never make him seem malicious.

Timeline can proudly add another success to their already hefty list with All My Sons. From the fabulous cast, including the heretofore unmentioned neighbors that establish the world around the Keller home, to the revelatory direction, Miller’s classic is done the justice it deserves. Just ask all the audience members reaching for their tissues at the end of the show.

Rating: ««««

 

View Arthur Miller's -All My Sons- at Timeline Theatre

Cast and Creative/Technical Team

 

Director: Kimberly Senior
Cast: Janet Ulrich Brooks
Rebecca Buller
John Byrnes
Michael Colucci
Juliet Hart
Erik Hellman
Bradford R. Lund
David Marcotte
Joan McGrath
Roger Mueller
Bridgette Pechman
PJ Powers
Mark Richards
Cora Vander Broek
Lighting: Charles Cooper
Sound: Christopher Kriz
Scenic Design Jack Magaw
Costume Design: Lindsey Pate
Fight Choreographer: Nick Sandys
Stage Manager: Ana Espinosa

8 Responses

  1. […] All My Sons TimeLine Theatre Company » our review here […]

  2. […] The Night Season «««« The Alumni Bow ««« Under Milk Wood «« Taming of the Shrew ««« All My Sons «««« Cabaret ««½ The Hecubae « My Fair Lady ««« Moonshiner «««½ The Wonder: A Woman […]

  3. […] Aug 31 All My Sons at Timeline Theatre (our review) […]

  4. It was certainly interesting for me to read that post. Thanks for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to them. I would like to read more on that blog soon.

    Best regards

    • thanks so much!  We’ll have more interviews with actors and directors involved with Arthur Miller plays this year in Chicago.  If you click on the tab at the top of the page labeled “Arthur Miller Project” you’ll find another interview regarding “Death of a Salesman” as well as a list of Miller plays coming up this spring.

      Thanks for reading and for the feedback!

      Scotty Zacher founder/editor ChicagoTheaterBlog

  5. […] such as critic top picks The Overwhelming at Next Theatre and All My Sons at TimeLine Theatre (our review ★★★★). This year she’s had the fortune of directing plays written by some of greatest […]

  6. […] History Boys, Timeline ventured into a new venue, mounting an acclaimed revival of All My Sons (our review ★★★★) at Greenhouse Theater Center, and the theater’s first venture into South Africa, […]

  7. […] All My Sons – Kimberly Senior talks about Timeline Theatre’s production […]

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