All My Sons: Review

The War... was just a matter of nickels and dimes.

all my sons

Photo: Cardinal Stage Company, Eleanor Berman

Maureen Gallagher as Kate Keller warns Tim Pyles as her son Chris about the dangers of truth.

Event Information

All My Sons

Cardinal Stage Company’s production of Miller's first successful play continues through Sept. 18. Evocative set by C. David Higgins, costumes by Angela Malone.

Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center

323 3020

The Cardinal Stage Company opens their sixth season with Arthur Miller’s award winning post-WWII play All My Sons. The play has the feel of a Greek drama, complete with a buried secret, its gradual revelation, and a tragic ending that results in reconciliation and order. The production is part of Indiana University’s Themester 2011: Making War: Making Peace.


All My Sons is a potent production, directed by the company’s founder Randy White. It pits a cynical father against an optimistic, if disappointed, son. The father, Joe Keller, is masterfully played by Ken Farrell as an avuncular charmer with an edge. Joe was a war profiteer. Military contracts built his business from a small shop to a large postwar enterprise. In a cynical moment, Joe says the war was simply a matter of nickels and dimes.

…And Sons

Joe’s son Chris was a decorated officer in the war. He’s portrayed with equal fullness by Tim Pyles. Chris is back at home, working dutifully in the business that his father built. During the war, Chris saw men rise to heights of heroism and brotherhood. He’s disappointed that none of this seems to have carried over into peacetime.

A Grieving Mother

At the center of the family is the family’s matriarch, Kate Keller (played by Maureen Gallagher). While both Joe and Chris have moved on, Kate is still stuck in the war. Her older son Larry has been missing in action for more than three years, and she’s still waiting for him to come home. Kate is the tortured possessor of the play’s buried secret. While Joe and Chris have accepted Larry’s death, she holds on to the belief that he will return with crazed determination.

Strong Scenes, Telling Moments

In a production with many strong scenes and telling moments, my favorite was between Kate and a former neighbor boy, George, played with a fascinating, slightly manic distraction by Mike McNamara. George has returned fully determined to blow open the secret. Kate, who’s been deeply depressed and manic, rises to the occasion. She embraces, calms, charms and reduces the vengeful George to the dutiful little boy who used to love to come over for her grape drink. It’s quite a scene, in quite an amazing piece of theatre.

At the theatre for you, I’m George Walker.

George Walker

George Walker was born in Winchester, Virginia, and raised in Owl’s Head, Maine, and Valhalla, New York. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he came to Bloomington in 1966 and completed an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University. George began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Currently, along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists in a wide variety of areas and reviews plays and operas. He’s the proud father of grown sons Ben Walker (and his wife Elise Katzif Walker) and Aaron Walker. In his time away from WFIU, George enjoys an active life with wife Carolyn Lipson-Walker, singing, reading, exercising and playing guitar.

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