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NY Theater Reviews

(L to R) Benjamin Walker, Tracy Letts, Annette Bening and Hampton Fluker/ Ph: Joan Marcus

LIPTON'S TOP PICK OF 2019

By BRIAN SCOTT LIPTON

Annette Bening is a revelation in a production that still rings true seven decades later.

Arthur Miller delivered a powerful message about the dangers of capitalism in his Tony Award-winning 1947 drama All My Sons. Seven decades later, with Donald Trump in the White House and “democratic socialism” being the key phrase among many of the 2020 presidential hopefuls, Miller’s cautionary tale-cum-family drama resonated – perhaps more strongly than ever – in Jack O’Brien’s superb revival for the Roundabout Theatre Company. Moreover, instead of forcing this parallel, O’Brien wisely let Miller’s prescient words speak for themselves by putting them in the mouths of some of America’s finest actors.

As Joe Keller, who “murdered” numerous military pilots (including his own son) during World War II, Tracy Lettsdisplayed a slightly crusty, gruff charm that cleverly hid the darker aspects of his personality. And when Letts finally imploded and exploded later in the play, after being forced to wake up and accept responsibility for his actions, the aftermath was both terrifying and heartbreaking, especially as it shattered the core of his adoring, surviving son Chris, superbly portrayed by Benjamin Walker.

Still, the production’s true revelation came from Annette Bening as Kate Keller. Not only did O’Brien subtly make us realize how each character’s actions and reactions are essentially responses to Kate’s moods, but the way Bening constantly signals, even when she smiles, that Kate has lost the strength to keep acting the parts she’s been assigned – the mourning mother and the supposedly innocent wife – is a triumph of great acting.