Eve Matheson as Kate and David Hounslow as Joe
Queen’s Theatre, Hornchuch 2022
Photo: Mark Sepple
046 – All My Sons, by Arthur Miller
It is a sunny Sunday morning in the Summer of 1946. In the garden of Joe and Kate Keller’s home in the outskirts of an all-American town stands the broken trunk of slender apple tree. There has been a storm in the night that has struck the tree, an event that Kate Keller takes as a sign, because the tree was planted as a memorial to their son Larry who was reported missing in action in the war three years ago, and whom Kate wants to believe will yet return home alive. But there is a greater storm brewing that over the course of this long Sunday will destroy the fragile peace of this family.
This is the setting of Arthur Miller’s breakthrough play All My Sons, which Miller started to write during the early 1940s before it premiered on Broadway in January 1947. Despite some who criticized what they deemed the play’s unpatriotic sentiments, it ran for nearly three years, winning the Tony award for best author and earning Miller life-changing amounts of fame and money. Like some of Miller’s other work All My Sons is both a searing family tragedy and an exploration of the moral challenges that he believed were inherent in the American Dream.
Douglas Rintoul recently directed All My Sons at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch, where he has been Artistic Director for the past seven years. Douglas joins me to share his insights on this devastatingly powerful play.
Douglas Rintoul has recently been appointed the Chief Executive of the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. For the past seven years he has been the Artistic Director of the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch, during which time the theatre won the London Theatre of the Year Stage Award 2020. He has also been a freelance director, an associate of Complicité, and a founder of the national touring theatre company Transport. His work has received no fewer than 24 Off West End Award nominations.
Selected credits as a director include: As You Like It (QTH and National Theatre); Abigail’s Party (QTH, Salisbury Playhouse, Derby Theatre and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg) Macbeth (QTH and Derby Theatre); The Crucible (QTH, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg and Selladoor); Made in Dagenham and Rope (QTH and New Wolsey Theatre); Much Ado About Nothing, In Basildon Love Letters, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole The Musical, Misfits, The Hired Man (QTH); The Deep Blue Sea, All My Sons, Of Mice of Men (Watermill Theatre); Touched (Trafalgar Studios); and Elegy (Transport/Theate503).
Douglas recommended Europe by David Greig
The Footnotes to our episode on All My Sons include Miller’s sources of the story in the play, observations on his critique of the American Dream, and the characters of Ann and George Deever.
Jez Butterworth’s play Jersualem is one of the landmark plays of the 21st century, acclaimed for both its lyrical and elusive text exploring English identity, and for its electrifying theatrical production. The once-in-a lifetime performance is happily being repeated with the current West End revival, and it seems fitting that our 50th episode be devoted to this remarkable play. I’m joined by David Ian Rabey, Emeritus Professor at Aberystwyth University and author of The Theatre and Films of Jez Butterworth.
Although August Wilson’s play Jitney is set in the office of an unlicensed taxi company in Pittsburgh in 1977, its themes, and the relationships and hopes and dreams of its characters are universal. I’m joined in this episode by actors Wil Johnson and Tony Marshall who are currently starring in the Old Vic’s vibrant new production of the play.
Much Ado About Nothing is rightly renowned for the “merry war” of wits between the reluctant lovers Beatrice and Benedick, but alongside their brilliant partnership, there is also a darker story of misogyny and betrayal that gives the play a more complex and challenging character. Lucy Bailey, director of the joyous production currently running at the Globe Theatre in London joins me to review this romantic rollercoaster.