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Ecletic’s “All My Sons” A Satisfying Production of A Timeless Classic
“All My Sons” is a tried and true script and the story, by any cast, is moving and engrossing. Eclectic Full Contact Theatre does not disappoint in its production with some strong acting by a few main characters and a welcoming set.
Set entirely in the front yard of the Keller house, Joe Keller (David Elliot) is enjoying the morning paper while entertaining the kids and family who pass by the front of the house in the Mayberry-esque Ohio neighborhood.
The warm regards he receives and his affable and charismatic character hide will the fact that he was recently released from prison after his exoneration on charges that he covered up a fatal manufacturing defect during World War II. His factory was outfitted to make piston heads and other other parts for P-40 mustangs fighting in Burma. Faulty production caused the planes to fall from the sky, killing 21 pilots.
Joe also lost his son Larry during the war, although he was declared missing and not dead. After five years most of the family has accepted his demise except Larry’s mother, Kate, who maintains hope that his is still alive. While she is filled with hope after reading stories of other soldiers returning home years after they were pronounced MIA, the rest of the family can’t ignore the odds.
The Keller’s other son, Chris (Jeff Kurysz), also fought and survived WWII and now works alongside in his father in the shop, which manufactures washing machine parts. If Chris or the neighbors have any doubts about Joe’s innocence, they keep it well hidden behind friendly laughter and playful jabs in the front yard. The story gains intrigue when the daughter of Joe’s partner, Steve Deever, returns to town and begins a romance with Chris. Ann (Tracey Green) is still close with the Kellers and has essentially disowned her father, who is still in prison for putting cover-up welds on the piston heads, allowing them to pass inspection and ship overseas.
Elliot seems perfectly cast as Joe, with a gentle voice and passive nature he is very believable as the hardworking patriarch of a small-town family. Elliot’s performance was a little off on opening night and his delivery seemed rushed at times, but improved in the second half and overall was acceptable.
The production benefited greatly from the acting of Kurysz who played the loyal but ideological youngest son. Despite his faith in his father, he is not drawn to the money and success that the business offers and has also grown weary of his mother’s delusion that his brother is still alive. Ann was Larry’s girl before the war and Kate believes it is a betrayal for Kate and Ann to discuss marriage.
If the rest of the cast can fall into their roles like Kursyz and Green, then Eclectic Theatre’s production of “All My Sons” will certainly be a worthy performance of Arthur Miller’s moving script.
“All My Sons” runs through Nov. 17 at Anthenaeum Theatre , 2936 N. Southport Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are $25 and are available by calling 312-902-1500 or at www.athenaeumtheatre.com. Curtain is 8 p.m. Thursday – Saturday, 2 p.m. on Sundays.