Although Arthur Miller had been writing stage plays since he was in his early 20s, very few of the first seven had actually been produced. But he broke through in 1947 winning a Tony with his script for All My Sons, on view at Chanticleer Community Theater. That play ran for 22 months and became almost as famous as Death of a Salesman which emerged while the first was still on Broadway. Another Tony plus a Pulitzer for this second of quite a few powerful stories of dysfunctional families. Arthur Miller had arrived.
All My Sons stays relevant today where the word “money’ and its variations repeatedly toll like a warning,” said The New York Times. Inspired by Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, it spins around personal ethics and social responsibility where two business partners are torn apart when one is sent to prison for a crime the other committed. It dwells, as you may know, on what at first seems a sense of The American Dream. In a pleasant and prosperous neighborhood, the son of a successful businessman is in love with the former girl next door. The other son died a hero in a good fight against evil. But there are things beneath the surface. Cracks appear in more ways than one and the ground will shatter.
Actually All My Sons is based on a true story. During World War II, Ohio-based Wright Aeronautical Corporation conspired with army inspection officers to approve defective aircraft engines to be used in warplanes. That crime was investigated a U.S. Congress board led by Senator Harry Truman after Wright assembly workers informed on the company. As a result in 1944 three Army Air Force officers were convicted of neglect of duty. http://www.themilitant.com/2005/6923/692350.html
Miler created vivid characters, clearly parts of American society, said The New York Times’ Brooks Atkinson about the original production, “presenting them as individuals with hearts and minds of their own….in “a tangle of plot that springs naturally out of the circumstances of life today, (driving) to a startling and terrifying climax.”
Miller gave us indelible characters and stories that tell us about ourselves. They can get quite close.
All My Sons runs November 10-19 at Chanticleer Community Theater, 830 Franklin Avenue, Council Bluffs. Friday and Saturday: 7:30 p.m. Sunday 2 p.m. Tickets $10-$20. http://www.chanticleertheater.com/