19 May 2019 | TheLittleSongbird
"I don't know why it is, but every time I reach out for something I want, I have to pull back because other people will suffer"
Only recently got acquainted with Arthur Miller's work, having heard a lot about it (most positive), and there was a while of meaning to but not getting round to doing so. Due to being a lot going on, personally and in watching and reviewing, meaning not much time to do. Going to a live screening at the cinema to see my first stage production, courtesy of National Theatre, of Miller's first success 'All My Sons' was a perfect opportunity of becoming more familiar with and appreciating it.
It was an experience that will never be forgotten and in a different league to anything else seen at the cinema recently. Only the Metropolitan Opera live screening of Poulenc's 'Dialogues Des Carmelites' comes close or equals it. A truly powerful production of a truly powerful play, a play that still insights and touches to this day with richly drawn characters (particularly Chris) and with some of the best dialogue for any play that isn't by Shakespeare, with it being so hard-hitting and thought-provoking. 'All My Sons' to this day is one of his more accessible and emotionally impactful plays, with a remarkably relatable subject then and now. The setting may be old, but the emotional power and theme of 'All My Sons' aren't.
This production is designed simply, with a single house and garden set, but also very handsomely and true to period, also quite rustic. Visually it doesn't try to do anything ambitious or anything that would swamp the drama, neither is it too spare or simplistic. The costumes are also pleasing on the eye, especially Ann's, and the intimate yet never too static, over-reliant-on-close-ups or chaotic photography makes it more interesting. Looking up close, it is detailed in a way that represents the American dream not being as it seems on the surface.
Miller's dialogue still provides a lot of insight, is very thoughtful and has a lot of poignancy. Especially in the last act, which in the most emotional moments truly blisters like with Kate. The staging is on neither extreme of cluttered or static, the dialogue and drama breathes but the time also flies by. The tensions pack a punch, like with Joe and Chris, and the last act is genuinely moving with each painful revelation.
All the cast are exceptional, with top honours going to Sally Field, shattering in the last act and her defensiveness and fragility always perfectly pitched, and Colin Morgan, one really feels the intensity of his anger and understands it. That is not to overlook the equally masterclass-level performances from Bill Pullman, understated and deceptively benevolent, and the charming and touching Jenna Coleman.
In conclusion, powerful and riveting production. 10/10