Friday, 11 June 2010

Review: All My Sons, Apollo Theatre

At this late stage, there's not much more of originality that can be added to the superlative reviews already heaped on the revival of Howard Davies' production of All My Sons at the Apollo Theatre. This is a stunningly good production of Arthur Miller's first successful play, a tale of conscience and culpability in post-war America that has obvious resonances today.

Joe Keller is the archetypal Miller protagonist, an everyman pursuing the American Dream, apparently with success. William Dudley's solidly realistic house and garden not only provide a beautifully naturalistic backdrop, but represent the material security he has established for his family. But based on wartime profiteering and his "talent for ignoring things", this comfortable lifestyle is under threat.

David Suchet gives a virtuoso performance as Keller, winning over friends, family and neighbourhood children alike with his blend of charisma and beneficence. His mistake, of course, is that he is all too ready to believe his own spin, clinging to his lies for support long after they unravel. There is something utterly compelling about his downfall, as Suchet's confident entertainer is diminished to a bewildered shell of man.

Wife Kate, played by Zoë Wanamaker, is too preoccupied with her own pretenses to fall under his spell fully. Clinging to the belief that her youngest son is still alive, Wanamaker wrings every ounce of sympathy and emotional turmoil from the script to create a multi-layered portrayal that I still find myself thinking about days later.

With this powerful pairing then, it's equally impressive that the supporting cast is quite so good as well. Stephen Campbell Moore as the son that survived the war manages exceptionally well in a part that can be rather unforgiving, while Jemima Rooper as his fiancée maintains the necessary uncertainty that her role as outsider and catalyst demands, particularly in the final scenes.

The narrative tension mounts up slowly - a line here, a reference there - but the pieces slide into place just a split second before the audience is aware of the outcome, and the tragic denouement manages to be shocking in its inevitability. Theatre as its best.

£30 for the balcony. Ah, the West End, nemesis to the theatregoer on a shoestring. I will certainly be keeping my ear to the ground for any word of cheap tickets for All My Sons, but with such great reviews, I wouldn't hold out much hope.


Total Cost:
£33.50, but worth every penny.

All My Sons is currently running at the Apollo until 2nd October 2010. Tickets can be booked online here.

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