Playwright Arthur Miller wrote "All My Sons" in 1947, but it is pretty hard to watch this summer's American Players Theatre production without realizing -- sadly -- that nothing ever really changes.
Young people still go to war, just as they did in World War II. Some die. Some come home as heroes. The heroes live with survivor's guilt.
Some stay home and profit from the war. Some of those who profit also lose sons or daughters in the conflict.
"All My Sons" is a moving, perfectly acted drama. It would be pretty hard to sit through a performance and not be moved profoundly.
The play is set in a Midwestern back yard. It features Joe Keller, a manufacturer who became rich making aircraft engine parts during the war -- though he spent a brief term in jail after being accused of shipping defective parts -- and his wife, Kate, who refuses to accept the death of one of her sons, Larry, a pilot.
Sarah Day plays the role of Kate. She's been a member of the APT cast since 1986 and really just keeps getting better each year. Jonathan Smoots -- who has been with the cast for 24 years but is leaving next year -- plays the role of Joe, a positive, cheerful man with a secret.
Chris Keller, played by Marcus Truschinski, has returned home an idealistic hero, who can't quite fit in to the business-as-usual world he left before the war. He is in love with Ann Deever, who was Larry's girlfriend before the war. She is also the daughter of Joe's partner, who remains in jail for his part in the faulty-parts scandal (the play is based on an actual story).
Well, at any rate, there's an elephant in the yard. No one wants to tell Kate her son is really dead and no one wants to face up to the question of why Ann's father is taking the rap for the defective parts. There's a fear that, if the truth comes out, everything will fall apart.
The truth comes out. Everything falls apart.
This may be APT's best production of the summer. If you haven't seen it, try to do so.