Thursday, 8 October 2009

All My Sons - The Octagon Theatre, Bolton

All My Sons
Writer: Arthur Miller
Director: David Thacker
Reviewer: David Leith

The Keller’s are the family everyone wants to be; rich successful and liked by all. But behind the picket fences and rose bushes is a family hiding from the truth struggling to cope with the supposed fate of their beloved son and brother in Millers powerful drama. In our current political climate, with ongoing questions about the state of war, Millers fierce drama continues to have social pertinence.

In his debut as the artistic director of The Bolton Octagon, David Thacker’s production of All My Sons continues his personal relationship with the late playwright. Thacker’s passion and understanding of Miller is clear in this production that sets the standard for his new appointment.

Miller’s rich, multifaceted dialogue pours from each of the layered characters leaving the audience enthralled as the events of the play flawlessly unfold. The effortless delivery from this exceptional ensemble of actors makes you feel like somewhat of a voyeur. Delivered with such believability the words ooze from the stage as if they are taking place for the first time before our very eyes.

Margot Leicester’s emotional portrayal of Kate Keller, the atypical Miller female, hiding behind suburban domestication is carried out with sheer elegance. Oscar Pearce’s portrayal of the selfless Chris Keller, tired of living in his brother’s shadow and desperate to start a new life with “his brother’s girl” is executed with intense perfection and is heightened even more by the presence of Vanessa Kirby, whose portrayal of Ann Deever brings more substance to the cast’s ever-present chemistry.

George Irving’s portrayal of Millers protagonist Joe Keller, a man desperate to hold onto his family’s dynasty oozes with conviction and his charm fills the stage. Even the plays supporting characters such as the neighbouring Bayliss’ played by Patrick Poletti and Francesca Ryan are warm and inviting. These beautifully depicted characters keep you guessing and watching. Patrick Connellan’s minimal and elegant set provides a perfect backdrop, allowing the emphasis to be on the gut wrenching action.

As a reviewer you arrive at a show ready to take all elements into consideration, usually acknowledging; “I can see what the director is doing there” or “oh that reminds me of that other show I saw”. But in Thacker’s production of All My Sons you are engulfed from the outset in this powerful story. Making it easy to get lost in the comfortable allure of this play which makes the eventual climax even more exiting. Transitioning from the calm to the intense and engaging there is nothing clichéd about David Thacker’s razor sharp direction. This combined with Millers rich theatrical dialogue lures you in and grips you like an old fashioned thriller. Make it your business to see this show. It is In the Round theatre at its very best, an elegant, powerful and flawless piece of drama.

Photos: Ian Tilton
Runs until 24th Oct

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