Review: ‘All My Sons,’ a crescendo of emotion in a 1940s setting


Stars of “All My Sons” from left to right: Quentin James, Jordan Wolk, Zoe Gudehus, and Maya Kelch.
Photo by Lindsey Fiala.

MATT HAMPTON | Sports Editor

The emotional performances featured in Lindenwood’s theatre program’s production of “All My Sons” draw viewers into the gripping dramatic plot. 

The play, directed by professor Emily Jones, opened Oct. 5-6 and is scheduled for Oct. 11-13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Scheidegger Center Black Box Theatre.

Written by esteemed playwright Arthur Miller in 1947, “All My Sons” tells the story of an American family emotionally wracked by events that happened during the Second World War, both on the home front and abroad.

The production opens in the backyard of the Keller Family’s suburban house one sunny postwar Sunday morning.  Everything in the scene seems in order except one thing: the tree planted as a memorial to Larry Keller, who was reported missing in action.  

His mother, Kate, played by Maya Kelch, clings to the belief that Larry is still alive, and takes the fact that the tree broke during a storm the night before as an omen.  Citing a dream about her son she had during the storm, she says it cannot be a coincidence that Larry’s tree fell on the same night that his former girlfriend, Ann Deever, played by Zoe Gudehus, came to visit from New York.  

Larry’s idealistic brother, Chris, played by Jordan Wolk, who also served in the war, is now secretly in love with Ann and plans to propose to her.  He discusses this with his avuncular old dad, Joe, played by Quentin James, who is skeptical of it because he knows Kate will not like him marrying “Larry’s girl.”

But this is not the only controversy facing the two families.  Ann’s father, Steve Deever, ran a factory with Joe which sold faulty parts to the military, resulting in the deaths of 21 pilots. Steve went to prison for his involvement, but Joe was found not guilty. 

Jordan Wolk as Chris Keller and Zoe Gudehus as Ann Deever share a kiss in “All My Sons.”
Photo by Lindsey Fiala.

Chris and Ann, who turned her back on her father when he went to prison, think what Steve did was unforgivable.  But Joe says he will offer him a job when he finishes his sentence, and that Steve only shipped out defective parts out of fear. He insists Steve deserves forgiveness, saying “a father is a father.” In the argument, Ann says the faulty parts could have killed Larry, which greatly angers his distraught mother.  

Chris tells Ann he wants to marry her, but then the family gets a phone call saying her brother, George Deever, played by Logan Willmore, a lawyer is coming to meet her after talking to their father in prison.

Right after intermission, Chris removes the broken tree, and doubt about the circumstances builds in the second act.   Ann chats with the Kellers’ cynical neighbor, Susie Bayless, played by CeCe Day, who tells her everyone thinks Joe is guilty, and that she hopes they will move away if they marry because she dislikes Chris’s altruism rubbing off on her husband, Dr. Jim Bayless, played by Duncan Phillips.

Soon, George enters, wearing a suit, hat, and a troubled expression. He tells Ann that their father said Joe told him to ship the defective parts out, and he didn’t refuse because he is “a little man.”

Chris and Ann insist that George leave, so he doesn’t cause trouble with Mr. and Mrs. Keller, but soon, they meet George.  Joe and George initially talk civilly in the backyard, but tension bubbles just beneath the surface, and soon, a tense debate about the factory case erupts.  

Joe insists that he had nothing to do with Steve’s crime.  

“Some people in this world would rather see everyone else hang before they take the blame,” he says. 

The truth comes out when Kate says she cannot accept that Larry is dead because it would mean that Joe is responsible for his death.  With even Chris’s mother believing that the father he loved so dearly is guilty, he cannot cope and runs away. 

In the third act, the show’s intense conclusion takes place in the pallid light of what would have been a quiet early morning.  

Lindenwood students get two free tickets to “All My Sons,” and general admission tickets are $10.  The box office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and two hours before every performance