All My Sons @ The Raven Playhouse

The Greek hero on which Arthur Miller based his 1947 play All My Sons, is imprinted throughout this performance as Joe Keller (Mark Belnick) watches his secret unfolds and threatens to bring his family down. As a father, he won’t let that happen and he’ll do anything to protect his family. At any cost. And like the hero is wont to do, it has committed a crime he is all too aware about and it will unravel to its inevitable end. Without going into superlatives to praise this capable cast (though the cast as a whole certainly deserves it), each actor brings out the the complexity of each character deftly – never once falling into parody and always keeping the emotional drive at the fore of their performance, making this theatre experience one of the most moving one seen on stage in the North Hollywood NoHo Arts District.

Director Kiff Scholl has more than a passing understanding of Arthur Miller’s canon and it definitely shows. Despite the confines of a small stage, the actors never feel crammed and instead, fill the stage with honest emotion. Despite the seemingly melodramatic touches that are sprinkled through the play, All My Sons remains a fervent indictment of the American Dream and wartime profiteering that echoes our own times.

The play revolves around Joe Keller, a businessman exonerated for shipping damaged airplane cylinder heads out of his factory during World War II and inadvertently causing the deaths of 21 pilots. His ex-partner takes the fall and serves his term in jail. Now three years later, the family suffers through the loss of their son – gone missing and believed to be dead, though his mother, Kate (Caroleanne Johnson) adamantly believes he is alive and awaits his return. The Keller’s surviving son, Chris has followed in his father’s footsteps and now wishes to marry his dead brother’s girl, Ann Deever (Lauren Dobbins Webb), daughter of Joe’s ex-partner serving time in jail. Complications come to light upon her arrival at the Keller’s and move towards an inevitable ending.

Though a heavy drama, there is some lighthearted comedy in the play, (which is deftly brought out by this productions director) in the form of eccentric neighbors Dr. Jim Bayliss (Kevin Ashwhorth) and his wife Sue (Mary Carrig), and Frank Lubey (Matt Shea) and his wife Lydia Lubey – a weird, hilarious, and ultimately touchingly portrayal by Joanie Ellen, in her brief appearances in the play.

The set by Davis Campbell, costumes by Sarah Register, and light and sound by Matt Richter help add to the realism that is needed in the play. Anyone who wants to experience great American plays done right should not miss Wasatch Theatrical Ventures’ production of All My Sons at the Raven Playhouse. This production is top notch and a must-see!

All My Sons runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 7 PM through July 25. For more information about this production, please visit www.wasatchtheatricalproductions.com. For tickets, please visit www.plays411.com.

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About Obed Medina
Obed received his BA in Creative Writing from the University of California at Riverside. He has freelanced and volunteered at various theatre companies in Los Angeles since 2002. He launched his own workshop theatre company in 2008 and has produced six original one-act plays and one Off-Broadway hit. Currently, he is living in Ashland, Oregon working on his writing and founder of Collaborative Theatre Project.

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