Theatre review: All My Sons, Dundee Rep

All My Sons' at Dundee Rep, from left to right: Irene Macdougall as Kate Keller, Amy Kennedy as Anne Deever, Daniel Cahil as Chris Keller.
All My Sons' at Dundee Rep, from left to right: Irene Macdougall as Kate Keller, Amy Kennedy as Anne Deever, Daniel Cahil as Chris Keller.
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In the middle of Arthur Miller’s great 1947 drama All My Sons, the Second World War hero Chris Keller – now returned home, and working in his father’s Ohio manufacturing business – describes how, amid all the death and tragedy of the war, he felt that one new thing was being born; a sense of responsibility and brotherhood between men on which, perhaps, a better future could be founded.

All My Sons, Dundee Rep ****

It’s therefore particularly poignant – above all for those of us who benefited most from that moment of post-war social solidarity – to watch All My Sons being revived now, at a time when those post-war societies seem to be in decline, and reverting to the kind of world where ideas of family and blood-kinship once again trump our sense of common humanity.

Jemima Levick’s fine new Rep production – with strikingly bleak designs by Alex Lowde, framing the Kellers’ garden as something like a prison exercise yard – gives not an inch to the play’s famous picturesque naturalism, focussing instead on the sheer rigour with which Miller takes apart an American family idyll based on greed, lies, and a willingness to sacrifice the lives of others. Barrie Hunter, Irene Macdougall and Daniel Cahill are all intense and magnificent in the central roles of industrialist Joe Keller, his grieving wife Kate, and Chris, the surviving son. The rest of the ten-strong ensemble offer equally impressive support; and with David Paul Jones’s dark, almost filmic orchestral score and Chris Davey’s piercing shafts of light emphasising the sombre mood, this production emerges as a memorable and all-too-timely battle between Chris’s hard-won, fragile idealism, and a practical brutalism that may have been defeated in 1947, but is now, once again, frighteningly in the ascendant. - Joyce McMillan

Until 9 March.