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November 20, 2012 > Theatre Review: 'All My Sons' an exceptional season finale

Theatre Review: 'All My Sons' an exceptional season finale

By Julie Grabowski
Photos By Terry Sullivan

The Douglas Morrisson Theatre brings their season of "Family Portraits" to a close with a powerful and riveting production of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons." An exploration of familial love, social conscience, and the consequence of choices, the story wrestles with the best and basest of humanity in all of us.

In the aftermath of war, the Keller family is at odds with each other over past events, future plans, and personal conduct. Family patriarch, Joe, was accused of knowingly sending cracked cylinder heads to the Army, which resulted in the death of 21 pilots. While released from prison on appeal, Joe's partner is still serving time with a finger pointed unwaveringly at Joe for the blame. Chris Keller has returned from the war to work alongside his father in the factory, and while his brother was lost in action, their mother, Kate, believes Larry is still alive and won't hear of anyone not believing the same.

"We're like a railroad station waiting for a train that never comes in," Chris says, who is eager to put the past to rest and build his future, which includes plans to propose to the girl his brother left behind.

In less than 24-hours, illusions are shattered, loyalties are tested, and futures struggle to be born in the shadow of truth.

Director Susan E. Evans provides an exceptional piece of theatre with a remarkable cast, a dynamic and cohesive unit who blend in perfect partnership from beginning to end. John Baldwin, Patricia Tyler, and Jeffrey Hoffman create an emotional realism and honesty as the Keller family, and one feels their every heartbeat along the way. Baldwin is supremely likable and at his ease with Joe, and Tyler's Kate is beautifully intent, sure-footed and compelling. Hoffman excels as Chris, capturing his character's hopes and crushing realizations with touching sensitivity and passion.

The production is further enhanced by the softness and strength of Jessica Chisum as Ann, Geoffrey Nolan's unstable and struggling George Deever, and the cool and smooth breeze of Myron Freedman as Dr. Jim Bayliss.

Theatergoers are sure to miss the wonderful artistry of set designer Kim A. Tolman, who with "All My Sons" completes her 28th and final show for DMT. Always beautiful and arresting, Tolman's work stays the course with this production, placing the audience in the backyard of the Keller's sunny little house amid a grove of towering trees. While seemingly protected and serene, the house sits in the shadowy treetop of Larry's memorial tree felled by the wind; a long stripe of green extends out of the garden and ominously up the wall, curving overhead like a frozen wave waiting to crash down.

An unflinching and compelling story of love, loyalty, and man's connection and duty to his fellow man, "All My Sons" is an outstanding production that lingers in the mind long after the closing scene has faded to black.

"All My Sons" runs through December 9 at the Douglas Morrisson Theatre with a special Saturday matinee on December 1 at 2 p.m. where the audience can take part in a talkback session with the director and cast following the performance.

Tickets are $20 for the Saturday matinee and $28 for evening shows Thursday through Saturday and Sunday matinees. Discounts are available for seniors, students, TBA, KQED members, and groups (10+). The Box Office is open Tuesday through Friday, 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and can be reached at (510) 881-6777. Information and tickets are also available at

All My Sons
Nov 15 - Dec 9
Fridays and Saturdays: 8 p.m.
Saturday, Dec 1: 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sundays: 2 p.m.
Douglas Morrisson Theatre
22311 N. Third St., Hayward
(510) 881-6777
Tickets: $20 - 28

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