Review "ALL MY SONS": Americana Mama Drama

All My Sons
Timeline Theatre
Chicago, Illinois
August 27, 2009

Falling in love with the girl next door, sipping grape juice on the porch, Benny Goodman on the radio, All My Sons is set in the good old days, simpler times. I so wanted to join the Keller family in their backyard and perhaps un-shell a few peapods. Maybe pitch horseshoes. (It's the same feeling I had about the movie Arachnophobia, did it really need those spiders?) The Kellers are that family on the block. The house, where people gather. The ideal family!? Cue the spiders!

Janet Ulrich Brooks (Kate) is a standout as the mom, who denies that her son was killed in the war. Looking like Anne Bancroft's ghost, Brooks engages in some haunting moments of crazy trying to keep her illusion real. Cora Vander Broek (Ann), I loved her dress in the first act and her performance in the second. Speaking of clothes, I was distracted from Erik Hellman's performance (Chris) by his unflattering pants. Roger Mueller (Joe) reminded me of a dad... corny jokes, good natured, murderer... not my dad, but somebody's. The four neighbor characters seemed unnecessary to the plot and I had to wonder if Arthur Miller wrote the parts for some actor friends needing work.

Playwright Arthur Miller opened All My Sons on Broadway in 1947. It must have been radically controversial for the time period to portray war profiteering. His story is solid with flawed, interesting characters. Timeless? Not really! But Arthur couldn't have predicted that in 2009, being disgraced wouldn't be considered a fatal end. And that honor wouldn't be synonymous with war. But the biggie for me, that doesn't translate over 60+ years, the anticipated marriage proposal. When I get a note from a guy in the mail (e-mail) asking me to come to his house, I don't go assuming marriage.

This show's run starts on Monday, August 31st. I'm publishing a review from a preview night. Deal with it Chris Jones! I answer to no one!

Clueing me in on the pivotal moment when the title's meaning is revealed, Dick describes All My Sons as pure Americana mama drama!

WAITING FOR THE SHOW

Theatre Thursday is Chicago's great concept to woo audiences! For $25, we enjoyed two drinks and the "all you can eat" Americana buffet at Kendall's (2263 N. Lincoln) plus the show. C.J. broke all preconceived notions of pretty bartenders. She was friendly, efficient and even nice to the old people who didn't tip on their free drink tickets. The food pitch should have been described as the "all you can eat chips and salsa" Americana buffet, because the wings and pizza were scarce.

Rainy, cold night? Perfect post-show drink choice was Firefly (3335 N. Halsted). Not quite "pretty,"our bartender and server, Mark and Tod are always friendly, efficient and nicely generous with wine pours. Deciding to go to Firefly after a play is choosing to continue your theatre experience by becoming part of the cast of a nightly drama. Cue the spiders! Crazy drunk, freeloading twenty-somethings, dumped bartender, disgrace is definitely not fatal in 2009.

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