All My Sons

Definition

Theater

  • A play by Arthur Miller that proved his first success,winning the New York Drama critics' circle Award for Best Play. Firstperformed in 1947 in New York, All My Sons is an Ibsenian dramaabout war profiteering. Set in the aftermath of World War II, thestory centres upon 60-year-old Joe Keller, whose partner Deever isserving a prison sentence for knowingly fitting P40 fighter planeswith defective engines, causing the deaths of 21 pilots. AlthoughKeller had instigated the crime, he had been released owing to lackof evidence. Deever's son, George, visits and reveals the truth toKeller's son, Chris. A letter then reveals that Keller's other son,Larry, whom everyone supposes to have been killed in action, had infact committed suicide on learning of his father's crime. Faced withthis truth, Keller shoots himself in the head and dies.

    The play was later made into a Hollywood film starring EdwardG. Robinson as the father. In the 1981 London revival Colin Blakelyplayed Joe with Rosemary Harris as his wife.

    Despite the seriousness of the theme, the first productionof All My Sons ended with one of those stage pranks belovedby actors. On its last night, the leading man reached for his packetof cigars to find a packet of cocktail sausages in its place.

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