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All My Sons at the Open Air theatre

First Published 21 May 2014, Last Updated 30 May 2018

What’s it all about?

Arthur Miller’s classic is a definitive masterclass in building tension. So tense is the post Second World War-set play, in fact, done right and you should have butterflies for at least the final hour and a half straight.

Timothy Sheader’s production – as ever looking gorgeous in the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s unparalleled beautiful setting – achieves this with a handful of standout performances and atmospheric direction. As the soft light of dawn begins proceedings, the Keller family start a day like any other. But as the hours pass by and old friends arrive at their door, a catastrophic series of events unfold leading to the show’s explosive finale.  

Who’s in it?

Tom Mannion leads proceedings as father and husband Joe Keller. A self-made man with a horrifying secret, Mannion’s performance is wildly frenetic as an eroding panic that he will be uncovered for the traitor he is begins to seep in. As his on stage wife, Bríd Brennan is tasked with possibly the play’s most taxing role of all, playing a woman who has never recovered from the death of her soldier son. Unpredictable and schizophrenic in her reactions, Brennan offers a suitably unstable performance.

Strong support comes from Charles Aitken as an overshadowed son grasping for his own happiness and a host of neighbours who make the Keller house’s welcoming lawn look busier than Piccadilly Circus. But it is Amy Nuttall who steals the show as Ann Deaver. Playing a woman returning to her home town following more than her fair share of heartbreak, her exuberant and desperately optimistic performance is packed with gravitas and packs the most devastating punch of all.

What should I look out for?

A soundtrack of crickets and bird song that compliments the open air surroundings and transport you to the Keller’s suburban American home, portrayed by Lizzie Clachan’s retro, pastel coloured set complete with ominously cheerful cartoon family backdrop.

Who was in the press night crowd?

Charlotte Wakefield, who returned to the theatre following her Olivier Award nominated turn in The Sound Of Music last summer. Also returning was Open Air regular Samantha Spiro, who sat with her Grandma’s House co-star comedian Simon Amstell, and Broadchurch actor Andrew Buchan was on hand to send some positive vibes to his wife Nuttall.

In a nutshell?

Timothy Sheader’s revival of Arthur Miller’s classic is a bubbling pot of simmering tension right up to its explosive conclusion.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@Penny_Dropping Would strongly urge people to go and see @OpenAirTheatre’s production of All My Sons. Brilliant interpretation of an excellent play.

@LondonFabric Still reeling from the subtle genius of Arthur Miller. @OpenAirTheatre’s breathtaking All My Sons is not to be missed. #OATAllMySons

Will I like it?

While the cast may not be as high profile as that of the prestigious 2010 West End production starring David Suchet and Zoe Wanamaker, Sheader’s version takes the lead on setting. Rather than finding itself lost in its open air surroundings, Miller’s stunningly written story only becomes more devastating and intense when placed on this revealing stage.


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