Last weekend we watched All My Sons, Arthur Miller’s modern classic.
It was the autumn 2016 production performed by the brilliant local theatre company of Chandler’s Ford: Chameleon Theatre Company.
The Great British Bake Off, and Strictly Come Dancing might have drawn millions of viewers. But for those lucky audience at Ritchie Memorial Hall last Wednesday to Saturday, they experienced the most extraordinary power that a television programme couldn’t match.
The play was superbly directed by Geoff Dodsworth – a profoundly moving performance ably played by all. The emotional turmoil on stage was clearly felt in the audience.
Could a mother ever get over the loss of a son? Liz Strevens’ convincing portrayal of Kate Keller was flawless. Liz connected to anyone who has ever lost someone in their life – her voice carried both fragility and strength throughout that could break your heart.
A complex story with lies, cover-up, crime, and a tangled love affair. The American dream was shattered, in this play in 1947.
I’ve watched many Chameleons’ productions in the past 3 years and got familiar with some actors and actresses. Nick Coleman (Joe Keller) and Lisa Dunbar (Ann Deever) were both impressive each time, and Matthew Meehan (George Deever) always stunned the audience with his strong stage presence.
Matthew is expert in playing a dark character, such as his role as Professor Marcus in The Ladykillers, and the emotionally tortured Renfield in Dracula. Matthew Meehan could practically stop you breathing the moment he comes on stage. As a versatile actor, Matthew is certainly capable of some light-hearted role, such as the role of a ballet dancer.
Similarly, Nick Coleman, from the very dump One Round in The Ladykilers, to a man living in guilt and lies as Joe Keller, not to mention his famous “Who wants to be a millionaire” dance as Felix in The Pocket Dream, show his potential.
The new members to the Chameleons were shining. Matt Costen (Chris Keller) and Paul Jones (Frank Lubey), both ridiculously good-looking young men, were hilarious in Aladdin early this year, when Matt played Abanazar, and Paul played Wishee Washee.
In All My Sons, Matt transformed himself and showed us the emotional depth he was capable of. Paul Jones as Jonathan Harker in Dracula also proved that he is a versatile actor.
Cari Laythorpe, as Sue Bayliss, Kevin Bowersand, as Dr. Jim Bayliss, Emma Peacock, as Lydia Lubey, and the most adorable child Beth Bowers, as Bert, were all magnificent throughout. Cari Laythorpe was graceful as Phyllida in The Pocket Dream, and she’ll be musical director for next year’s pantomime Robin Hood. She is someone worth watching.
Finally, yes, the Americcn accent. I truly like the way the performers spoke eloquently with an American accent. At the beginning I nearly burst out laughing, but once I got over the shock of the American accent (in Chandler’s Ford), I sat comfortably, relaxed, and enjoyed the top class performance.
Congratulations to yet another brilliant performance by the Chameleons family. What an unforgettable evening. Thank you all.
Note: Allison Symes’ review on All My Sons will appear on 11th November 2016.
Credit: Photographs by Stuart Wineberg
Programme Note: by Geoff Dodsworth, director
All My Sons by Arthur Miller
All my Sons was written during the final stages of World War ll and was first performed in 1947 when the War, in all its aspects was still a raw memory.
The Keller family have their own unfinished business from the War – one son still “missing” and the other, surviving the horrors of war, determined to be worthy of the freedom granted by the heroism and sacrifice of so many. But events from the past which come to light as the action unfolds bring him face to face with compromise, expedience and deceit in his own family forcing him to deal with the unwelcome reality of the world as it is.
This is a powerful and dramatic play which has been on been on my “wish list” to present at Chameleons for some time.
I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible — the technical, backstage and front of house team, without whom no production would be possible and the excellent cast whose performances have brought this play to life with such conviction. And finally, you the audience for your continued support in the shared experience of live theatre.
Joe Keller: Nick Coleman
Kate Keller: Liz Strevens
Chris Keller: Matt Costen
Ann Deever: Lisa Dunbar
George Deever: Matthew Meehan
Dr. Jim Bayliss: Kevin Bowers
Sue Bayliss: Cari Laythorpe
Frank Lubey: Paul Jones
Lydia Lubey: Emma Peacock
Bert: Beth Bowers
For the Company
Assistant Director: Merle Dodsworth
Stage Manager: Sheila Hardiman
Properties: Sheila Hardiman
Tech Team Leader / Sound: Rebecca Nye
Lighting: Lionel Elliott
Wardrobe: Diana Mills
House Manager: Kayleigh Fagence