Posted on Oct 29, 2013
5 out of 5
I wasnít familiar with the story ďAll My SonsĒ prior to seeing this play performed by the River City Community Players, and Iím glad I went into the theater not knowing what I was about to see. The play is about big issues: how multiple lives can change because of one decision; how ambition can cloud judgment; how personal pride, loyalty to family, and what one owes to his fellow citizens can collide; how far a person can go to deny the truth in order to maintain a sense of order in life. This play forces one to consider the values of truth, loyalty, and duty. In short, it fulfills one of artís major functions: to instruct.
Though the play is instructive, it is not preachy; though it is a tragedy, there are moments of comedy. The story is realistic and paced in a way that one learns pieces of the story both believably and at the right time. There is no sudden revelationóthe truth arrives in bits and pieces. It would be hard to imagine a more gripping or better told story than this Arthur Miller masterpiece. Iíll offer no synopsis to allow those who wish to attend as I did, ready for whatever a fine cast and brilliant playwright could offer.
Who deserves mention? Linda Finch is absolutely superb as Kate Keller, a wife who suffered long in silence and continued in life only by living through a delusion. Hers was a professional-level performance in every way. Nino Casisi played George Deever. Though only on stage for one scene, Casisi is magnificent in portraying the pain of a young man who knows the truth, a truth that essentially destroys people he has cared about his whole life. Casisi shows extraordinary range. He arrives angry, becomes settled when he sees Kate, and then returns to rage when it becomes clear that he has no choice but to speak up and force everyone to face either what they had done or refused to acknowledge. Shannon Walsh brings energy and enthusiasm in her portrayal of Ann Deever, who knows more of the truth than expected. Finally, Justin Speer is brilliant as Chris Keller. He is believable and compelling, whether frustrated, angry, or emotionally devastated. Speerís final scene with his father Joe Keller, played skillfully by Richard Bayse, is as powerful and moving as any exchange one is likely to see at any venue.
Itís important as well to mention costumes in this period piece, so congratulations must be sent to costumer Nancy Mazzia for taking us 65 years back in time. In a time where people often search out trivial diversions, this powerful and moving play serves as evidence of the potential for live theater to move everyone involved.