All My Sons (Eternity Playhouse, Sydney)

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What do the critics think of All My Sons? We review the reviews.
[box] 01 Nov – 01 Dec show times: Tue-Sat 8pm; Sun 5pm Book tickets [/box]

The low-down

Darlinghurst Theatre Company opens the new Eternity Playhouse with Arthur Miller’s American classic. It mightn’t be his most performed work, but Miller’s tale of a father driven to provide the best for his family at the expense of others resonates just as clearly with audiences today as it did when it first premiered. Director Iain Sinclair has assembled an ensemble led by Marshall Napier and Toni Scanlon to open the sumptuous Eternity Playhouse in grand style.

Our verdict

This production (kicking off the 2014 season prematurely at the brand spanking new Eternity Playhouse) of Arthur Miller’s highly awarded, post-war play, directed on Broadway by Elia Kazan, shows every sign of being a worthy rival to the original. Director Iain Sinclair has played it straight and true. READ OUR REVIEW

What the other critics say

Though it’s not the most obvious choice of play to open a new independent space in Sydney, critics have been generally positive about this production of All My Sons. Traditional productions of classics have become a bit of an anomaly in recent years in Sydney, but the reviews have embraced that approach. There’s been fairly consistent praise for the performances, and, surprisingly, two comparisons between Miller’s work and Breaking Bad (The Australian, Time Out Sydney). Consensus rating: 7/10
“Iain Sinclair’s production is unpretentious, powerfully acted and committed to representing the play’s sense of place and period. If it seems a tad “square” compared to Belvoir’s recent Death of a Salesman or Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, at least it allows for easy immersion into its world. Sinclair has cast the piece beautifully. Miller describes Joe as “a man amongst men” and the growling Napier is certainly that – observe the way he splits an apple. He expertly locates Joe’s vulnerability, too, and makes his defending of an edifice of half-truths compelling and pitiable.” Jason Blake, Sydney Morning Herald
“It’s hard not to see this in the context of the multinational corporations involved recently in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Miller established a style of drama – in which individuals with whom we empathise act to create a world that then comes to control them – that laid the path for The Godfather and Breaking Bad. The acting is very powerful. Marshall Napier and Toni Scanlan play the patriarch and his troubled wife. Andrew Henry and Meredith Penman play the hopeful young lovers trapped in the prison of the past that the former generation has created for them.” John McCallum, The Australian
“The production is cleanly staged on a basic set, and features a great ensemble cast, working to varying degrees… If there’s a problem with the production, it’s a surfeit of emotion on top of already overblown material. The soundtrack, a little on the nose, could be pulled back in places where the drama is already in overdrive – and likewise the performances, which in the second act are at risk of being too unrelentingly shouty.” Dee Jefferson, Time Out Sydney
“Director Iain Sinclair has opted to keep the production fairly traditional, with American accents and a suburban backyard set by production designer Luke Ede that is effective if a trifle uninspiring. On opening night, the show was greeted by rapturous applause by an audience who is evidently thrilled to have it here at last and desperate for it to succeed. With All My Sons, it’s off to a terrific start. Watch this space.” Polly Simons, Daily Telegraph
“This is beautifully crafted theatre that tells a story of a fairly ordinary family with an extraordinary secret. What is so wonderful about this production is that from the set, to the cast, to the execution they are all done with a singular purpose and that is to serve Miller’s text. There are no bells and whistles, no fancy rewrites or pretentious “contemporising” of the work, this is just a great cast, telling a great story and doing it very well indeed.” Whitney Fitzsimmons, Stage Whispers


A moving, if not earth-shattering, production of a great play.

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