All My Sons Is All Too Close

Brian Mackey (L); Tom Stephenson (R)

Brian Mackey (L); Tom Stephenson (R)

For a company whose primary goal is to invigorate the work of Shakespeare, it might seem a curious choice to open the fifth season with a quintessentially American play.

All My Sons still resonates,” says director Christy Yael-Cox, who chose this play partly because of her love of Arthur Miller and partly because the themes of wartime struggle, family loyalty and ethical dilemmas are still important issues in our modern day society.

“This play is just as relevant now as it was in 1947,” says Brian Mackey, who is portraying Chris Keller, the only son from his family to have returned from the war when the play begins. “The issues that it raises of family and sacrifice and idealism, it’s the same thing that we are dealing with right now.”

The crux of the play is this. Everyone is trying to create and maintain lives of stability and happiness and success. How each character goes about achieving these things is where Miller focuses the microscope. The lines between right and wrong, good and bad, and family and foe become blurred very quickly.

Savvy Scopelleti (L); Jacque Wilke (R)

Savvy Scopelleti (L); Jacque Wilke (R)

“It’s a plate spinner,” says Tom Stephenson, who is portraying Joe Keller, whose actions in both the past and the present largely determine the direction of the story. “It’s a time when the American Dream is coming to fruition and it’s a very attractive thing and family is really important. Joe Keller sacrifices virtually everything for his family – but he sacrifices others, not necessarily himself.”

Aside from the ethical issues raised by the story, there is also the question of how to continue the pursuit of these idyllic dreams once the truth is unveiled. Iis it possible to forgive? To forget? Is it denial that moves us towards our next moments in life, or is it hope?

Savvy Scopelleti plays Kate Keller, the mother whose character embodies this question.

“Kate totally believes that her lost son is going to come home,” she says.  “That causes a lot of undercurrents of tension in the family.”

Tom Stephenson (L); Savvy Scopelleti (R)

Tom Stephenson (L); Savvy Scopelleti (R)

To watch these characters navigate these bumpy roads while maintaining the veneer of suburban charm is to witness a very intricate dance. How much truth is too much? How authentic is the American Dream?  How much of our character does it cost to maintain it and is it even worth it to do so?

“This play is a gigantic mirror that was sent here from 1947,” says Brian Rickel, who plays Frank Lubey, an optimistic, bowtie-sporting neighbor in this suburban town. “There’s a lot in this play that is incredibly relevant today and I think Arthur Miller is really important in the way that he wrote because of that.”

“Arthur Miller wrote for a time beyond himself,” says Tom. “And that’s why this play is the incredible thing that it is.”

All My Sons plays through April 19 at the Clayton E. Liggett Theater on the campus of San Dieguito Academy. 800 Santa Fe Drive, Encinitas.
Tickets can be purchased here

All My Sons Page