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Review Round-up: Miller\'s My Sons Proves a Hit

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Howard Davies, who directed All My Sons at the National ten years ago, has recreated his production at the West End\'s Apollo Theatre, with a new cast led by David Suchet and Zoe Wannamaker as married couple Joe and Kate Keller.

Arthur Miller’s 1947 play is the story of Joe Keller, a man who has sacrificed his honour to maintain his family\'s prosperity. His wife has managed to hide her knowledge of Joe\'s previous crimes, but things come to a head when their son decides to marry the former fiancée of his lost brother. Miller is believed to have based the play around a true story from World War Two, when a manufacturer knowingly allowed defective tank parts to be shipped out.

  • Michael Coveney in Whatsonstage.com (five stars) – “David Suchet and Zoe Wanamaker are the perfect pairing as Joe and Kate Keller … Davies establishes a tragic tone with an invented prologue of the wind howling through William Dudley’s densely forested garden … Suchet brings much more weight, as well as shiftiness, to the role, and the evening winds up with a tension that’s almost unbearable ... The crux of it all is the outstanding performance of Stephen Campbell Moore as the second son … and he’s brilliantly partnered by Jemima Rooper as the hopeful but finally devastated fiancée. Jerusalem was always going to be a hard act to follow on the Apollo stage, but the West End has now done Arthur Miller much more than proud: this is a truly magnificent revival.”
  • Michael Billington in the Guradian (five stars) – “Not only is the acting tremendous and every visual detail precise … But the power of the production lies in the stripping away of protective illusion. David Suchet\'s superb Joe is a man who conceals his guilt under a backyard bonhomie … But, confronted by the truth of his past, Suchet shrivels before our eyes. Zoe Wanamaker is no less astonishing as Joe\'s wife … Wanamaker brilliantly allows you to glimpse the vehemence that underlies the bursts of suburban gaiety and charm … William Dudley\'s two-storied set is immaculate in its domestic detail; and when the surrounding trees shiver and tremble at the start, it is as if All My Sons picks up where the previous and equally impressive occupant of this theatre, Jerusalem, left off.”
  • Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph (five stars) – “This is a play of extraordinary power and emotional depth, and when it is performed as wonderfully as it is here … It is also profoundly moving. Last night I even spotted a hardened fellow critic weeping. Davies creates an atmosphere of ominous unease right from the start … The great David Suchet has never been better than he is here … His gathering desperation and guilt is at times almost too painful to watch. Zoë Wanamaker is also outstanding as his wife … and there is terrific support from Stephen Campbell Moore as the honourable surviving son and Jemima Rooper as the girlfriend … This is a stunning production of a modern classic and one that those who see it will never forget.”
  • Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard (four stars) – “You won\'t find better performances in the West End right now than those of David Suchet and Zoë Wanamaker in Howard Davies\'s meaty, satisfying production … Davies\'s production has a rousing sense of scale and is studded with telling details … There\'s excellent work from Stephen Campbell Moore as Joe\'s affectionate, attentive son Chris, and from Jemima Rooper, warm and twinkly but soulful as Ann … Wanamaker is husky, poised and poignant, a model of tortured seriousness. It\'s Suchet, though, who dominates … Every nuance of his performance feels perfectly weighted …All My Sons is a heavyweight drama … It’s not exactly summer blockbuster material, but it is as potent a production of Miller\'s work as one could hope to see.”
  • Neil Norman in the Express (three stars) – “Howard Davies\'s handsome if sedate production has great clarity … but it lacks the degree of emotion that should bring an audience crashing to the ground with each revelation. Suchet is too cultivated a man, exuding intelligence when he should smell of low cunning … Wanamaker underplays Kate\'s buried grief and fierce denial until the very end … The third act is genuinely moving and Suchet\'s silent reading of the fateful missive is a magnificent piece of wordless acting … but the heart of the production is kept pumping by Stephen Campbell Moore, whose performance as the Kellers\' surviving son Chris is right on the button … This is a polite, well-merited revival that needs just a little more blood on its hands.”
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