American Heritage School’s Bailey Vergara
The lives of twenty-one fighter pilots lay at the feet of Joe Keller. The death of a beloved family member haunts his family and friends. Arthur Miller’s All My Sons has always dealt with heart-wrenching themes of social responsibility, loss, and greed, but The Benjamin School gave new life to this classic through their excellent portrayal of two families broken apart by tragedy.
This American tragedy chronicles a short time in the lives of the Kellers, the Deevers, and their friends and neighbors, following the cracks and dents in their stories until it all comes to a crashing, sudden end. Joe Keller and Steve Deever were tried in court for shipping out cracked cylinder heads during World War II, which ultimately resulted in the deaths of twenty-one pilots. While Steve Deever was convicted, Joe Keller was sent home, and, three years later, the repercussions of Joe’s decisions come back to haunt him. The families must also cope with the loss of Larry Keller, a pilot in the war and one of Joe’s two sons. Based on real events, Arthur Miller’s play brings to the forefront a uniquely American story, one that can still resonate with audiences today.
Joe Keller, one of the central characters, is certainly a daunting role to play. However, Jacob Steinger was able to captivate audiences with his natural humor and excellent chemistry with other actors. Katherine Rodgers, who played Joe’s wife, Kate, certainly stood out as well. Her line delivery was grounded and truly phenomenal, capturing the pain of a grieving mother in denial beautifully. Caden Quinn, who played Joe and Kate’s son, Chris, did a beautiful job as well, blowing audiences away during the more heated portions of the play with his body language, chemistry, and overall believability.
Other memorable performances included that of Jakob Kroll as Frank Lubey, whose Southern accent and pacing made his character’s more comedic moments really shine. Sue Bayliss, played by Ella Pierman, also had spectacular comedic timing during her brief periods onstage, and Casey Crawford brought excellent tension and vocality to the role of George Deever. While some lines were muffled by crying and overlapping dialogue, the emotion of this play certainly shone through in the performances of all the characters.
The technical aspects of the play were as equally refined as the acting. The lights and sound were beautifully done, though sometimes the actors were cast in shadow when they moved to certain locations. The hair and makeup, done by Catherine Schenk, who also took part in the show as Ann Deever, was realistic and masterfully done.
Though it deals with difficult themes and requires much emotional depth from actors, The Benjamin School’s production of All My Sons was another masterful interpretation of Arthur Miller’s great American tragedy.