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Mr Monkey sees All My Sons at the Royal Exchange Theatre

Venue : Royal Exchange Theatre
Start date: 25th September 2013
End date : 26th October 2013
Visit date : 1st October 2013
Joe Keller (Don Warrington) in a good mood (Royal Exchange Theatre production photo)
Mr Monkey looking at the All My Sons poster outside the theatre Mr Monkey went into Manchester for the press night of All My Sons at the Royal Exchange Theatre. This production is presented by the Royal Exchange in association with Talawa Theatre Company.

Arthur Miller wrote All My Sons as a last attempt to create a commercially successful play; it opened in New York in January 1947 and closed in November after 328 performances. The play was inspired by a story he heard about a woman turning her father in to the authorites for selling defective equipment to the military.

The action of the play takes place in Joe Keller's backyard over two days in August, just after the end of World War Two.

At the start of the play, Joe Keller's main problems are that his wife has not accepted that after several years 'missing in action' is the same as 'killed in action', and that the tree planted as a memorial to the dead pilot has been blown down in the night. He doesn't realise it, but a visit by the missing son's fiancée is going to be the catalyst exposing traumatic truths.

The stage set shows a comfortable middle-class American backyard, and remains the same throughout the play. Subtle but effective lighting shows the passage of time.

Mr Monkey's humans had fond memories of an earlier production of All My Sons at the Exchange with John Thaw as Joe Keller, so this production had a lot to live up to. Neither Mr Monkey nor his humans were disappointed.

The keystone of the play is Joe Keller's realisation that he was as guilty as the partner who took the rap, that his neighbours have always known this, and that it actually matters. Don Warrington is excellent in his portrayal of a man's confident complacency crumbling into total breakdown as he loses his ability to hide from the consequences of his actions.

The other main characters - Joe's wife Kate, his younger son Chris and his partner's daughter Ann are also excellently played by Dona Croll, Chike Okonkwo and Kemi-Bo Jacobs.

Mr Monkey isn't totally happy with certain elements of the end of the play as Miller wrote it, but reckons the cast played it convincingly.

Mr Monkey thinks that All My Sons is an excellent, if somewhat grim, production.
Joe Keller (Don Warrington) in a bad mood (Royal Exchange Theatre production photo)

All My Sons runs until October 26th 2012.

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