When David Thacker, the new Artistic Director of the Octagon, chose to stage Arthur Miller’s All My Sons as his first production this October, there was a personal reason behind the decision.
David struck up a close relationship with Arthur Miller while he was Artistic Director at the Young Vic in London. Miller frequently traveled to Britain to see his work, and selected David to work with him on developing many of his later plays. He once commented “Not I alone, but theatre itself owes much to David Thacker”, and this respect was clearly mutual. David said:
“I had spoken to Arthur on the phone on a number of occasions before he came to see my production of Two Way Mirror. I was terrified at first, but we struck up a firm working relationship and friendship. He was witty, intelligent and, most of all, a man who loves human beings. It was a real privilege when he asked me to direct the British premiere of The Last Yankee, then to work with him on his new play Broken Glass, which we eventually made into a film together. Arthur was incredibly proud of All My Sons, it was a landmark in his career and his first major success as a playwright."
All My Sons is a powerful American family drama set in the aftermath of the Second World War. Joe Keller is accused, then cleared, of having supplied fighter planes with defective engines, leading to the deaths of innocent pilots. One of Keller’s own sons, himself a pilot, is missing in action and his mother is desperately clinging to the hope he is alive. But the family is thrown into turmoil by the unexpected arrival of Joe’s old business partner’s son, whose revelations send the play hurtling towards a devastating conclusion.
The role of Joe Keller will be played by George Irving, (pictured) who appeared as Anton Meyer in BBC’s Holby City and in the Octagon’s 2007 production of Shining City. He is joined by Huw Higginson, who played the part of George Garfield in The Bill for more than ten years, as well as Oscar Pearce, Tammy Joelle, Mark Letheren, Patrick Poletti and Francesca Ryan.
The role of Kate Keller will be played by Margot Leicester, who has appeared in recent television dramas such as Families and Sky One’s The Take. She is also married to David Thacker, and will be working with him on an Arthur Miller play for the first time since 1994, when she was nominated for a prestigious Olivier Award for Broken Glass at the National Theatre.
All My Sons runs at the Octagon, in Bolton from 4 - 24 October.