There are just a few truly classic works of theater. Plays or musicals that don't just remain relevant, but the characters continue to introduce new worlds to an audience, the language continues to dance, and the ideas continue to ignite discussions. Arthur Miller's All My Sons is one such play.
Written in 1947 and set in post War World II America, the play is based on a true story of an Ohio family torn apart by the war. A father whose company sold parts for the planes used in war; a mother who refuses to accept that one of her sons might be missing forever; and a young man who now that the war is over feels obligated to stay on at the family company.
In the first few minutes of the play, a storm blows into town, and this nuclear family will never be the same. If you don't know what happens next, WaterTower Theatre is currently presenting a production with crackling drama and some of the strongest acting on Dallas stages this year to date.
In what would be Miller's 100th anniversary year, dozens of American theaters are producing his first successful play, which also happens to be the winner of the first Tony Award for best play. In spite of a controversial discovery about Miller's past, he remains as one of America's greatest playwrights and if you need proof, WaterTower delivers it in spades.
Directed by David Denson, who reins most of the actors into a taut, grounded production, with perhaps the one exception being Tabitha Ray who postures and sing-songs her lines as Anne Deever. Otherwise, the actors grapple handily with the play's bitter critique of the American dream, overturning secrets and wrestling with their good intentions.
Led by Diana Sheehan and Terry Martin as the aging Kellers, the cast gives one standout performance after another. Christopher Cassarino is old Hollywood charm as the well-meaning, idealistic Chis Keller; and as a regular theater goer might predict, Joey Folsom is a force to be reckoned with as the disaffected George Deever. All of this plays out on Clare Floyd Devries' bucolic set, complete with country house and sprawling green lawn (likely to remind you of her set for Kitchen Dog Theater's Detroit).
There's little more to say than that this production is high quality, the acting is strong, and Miller's play remains beautiful and insightful in its exploration of what it means to be a human in a modern society.
See All My Sons through May 10 at the Addison Theatre and Conference Centre at 15650 Addison Road. Tickets start at $22, and are available at watertowertheatre.org.