Theatre Review: ‘All My Sons’ by Niagara Regional Theatre Guild at The Ellicott Creek Playhouse

The cast of “All My Sons” at Niagara Regional Theatre Guild.

Arthur Miller’s depiction of the American dream is one that not only aggravates me, but it is one that makes me wonder, what the heck Broadway audiences were excited to see live in 1947 when “All My Sons” opened. The story starts off so sweet and fun, and boy, does it get dark and dense pretty quickly. I realize that Miller liked to work in themes of real gritty lives, looking for the dramatic stories to share about troubled tainted pasts, but wow. There is no fluff in this show at all. And you know what? Just because his depiction of the human condition in the 40’s is a little rough, I still find myself entertained and drawn to his work. Is Arthur Miller one of my favorite playwrights? No. But the man knew how to grab you by the throat, and keep you entertained, and invested in his stories. That being said, the entertaining production of “All My Sons” produced by the Niagara Regional Theatre Guild, complements Miller’s work by providing a riveting and entertaining night at the theatre.

. . .complements Miller’s work by providing a riveting and entertaining night at the theatre.

“All My Sons” tells the story of the Keller family. Your typical suburban family. Friendly, hospitable, welcoming. This facade is greatly portrayed, but things start getting iffy when a storm  comes to town. I use this figuratively and metaphorically. A tree that was planted in the backyard, in honor of son Larry, falls down in a storm. Larry has been missing for three and a half years, and mother Kate (Kunji Rey) believes that he is coming home from the war. Joe (Michael Breen) and son Chris (Louie Viscose) are both in agreement that Larry is never coming back. Chris also has a motive in believing this, because he has fallen in love with Larry’s girl, Annie (Sarah Fratello) and wants to marry her. All is good with the world until Annie’s brother George (Angelo Heimowitz) returns to town and brings news of his father’s anger, for he has been in prison, serving time for a crime that Joe, may or may not have framed him for.

The drama in this piece is absolutely fantastic, and director Fran Newton does a wonderful job hammering out the beats, and keeping the audience engaged and ready for the next breath. The cast feeds off of each other’s energy, and while a few of the interchanges between characters seem forced, and the tension isn’t always built up to a powerful climax, the overall show is very enjoyable.

Leading the show as Joe Keller is Michael Breen, who does a wonderful job playing the patriarch. You love Breen’s character, and feel really upset at the end of act two when a pivotal story plot is revealed. Breen plays Keller as a human being, a damaged human being who is easily relatable to the audience, and also asks the audience to decide if what Joe did was just, or cowardly. He is fantastic to watch on stage.

Kungi Rey as Kate is a great choice. She plays the motherly figure in this piece well, and is a joy to watch work. She keeps the naivety alive through the show, and punches you with her actual understanding of the events that Joe may be be guilty of. She does a wonderful job.

Louie Visone and Sarah Fratello as Chris and Annie, respectfully, have wonderful chemistry and keep the story flowing nicely with their new blossoming romance. They trigger the meat of the story, and keep the audience guessing throughout the entire show. They contribute to the drama well.

Angelo Heimowitz as George is perfect. Heimowitz comes in, guns a blazing, and is ready to fight. His demeanor, and his desire for blood is wonderful for this drama, and even thought he is only on stage for the second act, his presence is not forgotten. He leaves you with his image, and understands how powerful good acting can be.

Overall, this production is one that really hit me. It is what good storytelling is all about. Granted, this show was close to two and half hours long, but at no point was I bored, tired, or ready to leave. The cast at Niagara Regional Theatre Guild does a wonderful job with this production. Go see this show!

Running Time: Approximately 2 Hours and 10 minutes, with two 10 minute intermissions.

“All My Sons” runs until February 11, 2018, is produced by Niagara Regional Theatre Guild, and is presented at the Ellicott Creek Playhouse. For more information, click here.