Sally Field And Bill Pullman Shine In This Revival Of Arthur Miller's All My Sons

All My Sons, Old Vic ★★★★☆

By Johnny Fox Last edited 38 months ago

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Sally Field And Bill Pullman Shine In This Revival Of Arthur Miller's All My Sons All My Sons, Old Vic 4

In the interval, all you hear is "it's like...". With its hyper-realistic set, patchy lawn and wicker tray of drinks it's like an Ayckbourn, the mustachioed know-all neighbour is like Ned Flanders, and with their tidy home, kind hospitality and general niceness masking a guilty secret the Kellers could be like any family — including yours.

The hallmark of a 'great play' is its universality, and historically Arthur Miller's 1947 All My Sons is a 'great play' but it's debatable whether, in trying to adhere that greatness to contemporary realities, Jeremy Herrin's is a great production. There may be more to hope for in Marianne Elliott's BAME-cast Death of a Salesman, soon to open across the street at the Young Vic.

Based on a true story, it is a tragedy — the Kellers' wartime factory turned out engine casings that may have killed 21 pilots including their own son, and the transference of blame is a solid motif in a family where no-one listens to each other. But it's also a tragedy that Sally Field has not had more stage time in her illustrious TV and movie career, because her portrayal of Kate Keller, a frail and homely matriarch with a controlling core of carbon steel is beyond fine.

Bill Pullman is a winner too, as Joe Keller, conveniently swerving the fact his business partner took the rap, and practising charm on all the neighbourhood with an effortlessly real performance to match Field's. It's a rare treat to see Jenna Coleman (Victoria) on stage but she's fractionally too pert for the girl who shifts affections from the dead pilot to his younger brother.

When whistleblowers at the Boeing plant in South Carolina are alleging defective manufacturing on its 787 production line, the plot of All My Sons is suddenly globally relevant. But it's also a pure slice of 1940s Americana.

All My Sons, Old Vic Theatre, The Cut SE1, £20-65. Until June 8.

Last Updated 26 April 2019