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Theater Review: "All My Sons" at Actors Theatre 

Wednesday, Jun 9 2010
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Arthur Miller's 1947 breakthrough play was a sort of proto–Law and Order episode. It was ripped from the headlines and elaborated into an existentially suspenseful and socially critical whodunit, complete with riveting last-act confession, subsequent emotional wallop, and sudden final curtain. But as its central figure insists, presumably on the playwright's behalf, "I want ya to see it human. Human! Ya know?" Actors Theatre's production makes good strides toward that end. The action takes place over the course of an August day in a Midwestern backyard. It involves an industrialist (Randy Hurst) alleged to have knowingly supplied defective engine parts to American planes in World War II, with his pilot son long missing and presumed killed; his wife (director Joyce Henderson), deep in denial; and their other son (Nicholas Russell), more comfortable inheriting his brother's fiancée (Nahry Tak) than dad's prosperous business. That the play looks so good for its age is a credit to its author and to actors who inflect their characters with just enough contemporary-seeming intangibles. With heaps of humanity provided by Henderson's wounded matriarch and Russell's disheartened scion especially, it's a lived-in and long-lasting parable of greed, guilt, and the ceaseless burdens of filial responsibility.

About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

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SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.

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