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  • gilwilson 10:05 PM on January 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , bertold brecht, church doctrine, drama, galileo, galileo galilei, , , , , ,   

    “The Life of Galileo” by Bertold Brecht (produced by L.A. Theatre Works) 

    Brecht_TheLifeofGalileo

    “The Life of Galileo”
    by Bertold Brecht
    translated by David Hare
    Multi-cast performance
    Produced by L. A. Theatre Works
    Approx 2 hours

    I was getting ready to start a couple of audiobooks that were time consumers (any audiobook over 10 hours falls under that label for me). Not only were they long but they were both going to be espionage/government cover-up type stories and those require a huge commitment, especially since I was going to start them both at the same time. Before I tackled those two books, I wanted to listen to something that swallows you into the story, so I reached for one of my favorite go to publishers of audio, L.A. Theatre Works. I have a list of several go to(s) that I know will entertain me. What I like most about LATW is that they are plays that have been performed on stage and the producers take special care to record all the audio so that nothing is missed.

    As a proud owner of a degree in theatre, I have always been aware that theatre is a visual medium, especially if you ask all my theatrical designer friends, but also being a proud owner of a Radio / TV broadcasting degree I know that the theatre of the mind power of radio is a strong power. L.A. Theatre Works takes the time to make sure their performances that are transferred over to an audiobook format take the visual artistry and make it work in an audio format. This is achieved with excellent sound effects, music and of course the great acting. When an actor is describing a prop that is seen by the audience, the production and performance create the image in the listener’s mind that ensures nothing is missed.

    This production features a full-cast performance featuring: Neil Dickson, Roy Dotrice, Jeannie Elias, Jill Gascoine, Stacy Keach, Peter Lavin, Robert Machray, Christopher Neame, Moira Quirk, Darren Richardson, Alan Shearman, Simon Templeman, Joanne Whalley, Matthew Wolf

    What attracted me to this particular production from the vaults of L.A. Theatre Works is that the part of Galileo is played by Stacy Keach. Every performance I’ve ever seen or heard with Mr. Keach, whether comedy or tragedy, he has owned that role. Not so long ago I listened to an LATW performance of “Death of a Salesmen” in which Keach played Willie Loman and that became my favorite performance of that play. I will always be a fan of his.

    This play portrays Galileo Galilei as he shatters the world’s beliefs which have been dictated by the church for two millennia, in that we are not the center of the universe. When Galileo first lays his hands on a telescope and observes that the Earth is one of a few planets in the solar system that revolve around the sun and that the planets and stars are not held in suspension through crystal spheres, as believed by the church, he becomes a target for the Holy Inquisition. Committing such heresy Galileo is made to suffer torture, mentally and physically under the inquisitor. Galileo provides proof that only needs to be observed but the church stands firm.

    In a play that shows how advancements in science are hindered by long held beliefs this production from L.A. Theatre Works, is one that should be heard by anyone seeking truth.

     
  • gilwilson 8:24 PM on January 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , conservation, drama, galapagos, , , ,   

    “Tooth and Claw” by Michael Hollinger 

    toothclaw“Tooth and Claw”
    by Michael Hollinger
    Multi-cast performance
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
    Approx. 2 hours

    When it comes to audio entertainment I have four sources that I can go to to make sure I can find a good story. Countless times I’ve started an audiobook and just couldn’t stay interested and each time that happens I get frustrated and have to go to one of those sources so that I can be reminded that there are good audiobooks available. L.A. Theatre Works is one of those sources.

    L.A. Theatre Works produces live performances of plays that range from the classic to the modern and every time they feature a cast that is superb. With these live performances LATW also takes the time and effort to produce audio versions of these plays. The recordings are so expertly produced that while listening to the performance, as a reader, you are transported into the middle of the audience. All musical cues, sound effects and every dialogue are produced so that the attention to detail shows in that every single thing is heard clearly.

    This time around I picked out the play “Tooth and Claw,” not because I was interested in the subject matter, but simply because I knew, no matter what, I would get a great story from L.A. Theatre Works and yes I was right. This production was yet another performance where the acting and production kept me interested and entertained.
    “Tooth and Claw” is a contemporary drama based on actual events, biologist Schuyler Baines (portrayed by Cynthia Watros of “Lost”) arrives in the Galapagos Islands to run the Darwin Research Center. When she becomes aware of an exploding black market in sea cucumbers threatening to destroy the islands’ fragile ecosystem, Schuyler shuts the industry down, sparking a deadly, survival-of-the-fittest conflict with native fishermen.

    “Tooth and Claw” becomes a compelling exploration of evolution, extinction and the ever-present nature of Darwin’s “struggle for life.” In the 1990s, the indigenous fisherman (pepineros) of the Galapagos Islands were pitted against environmentalists over the issue of harvesting sea cucumbers, both the primary source of income for the pepineros and an essential part of the food chain for sea tortoises. The fisherman subsequently revolted and slaughtered the endangered tortoises in protest. Even now, the conflict continues with the fisherman in search of shark fins and sea cucumbers for Asian markets, unmindful of conservation efforts. “Tooth and Claw” looks not just at the survival of the fittest, whether human, animal or flora, but at the less obvious clash between science and conservation.

    A very intriguing story and an excellent performance both combine to make this a great way to spend two hours.

     
  • gilwilson 11:16 PM on November 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , culture, drama, , , , paranoid, , psychiatry, schizophrenic   

    “Blue/Orange” by Joe Penhall produced by L.A. Theatre Works 

    “Blue/Orange”
    by Joe Penhall
    starring Daniel Davis, Matt Letscher and Teagle F. Bougere
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
    Approx 2 hours.

    Once again I’m magically transported to the world of live theatre through the expert production and performance of L.A. Theatre Works. L.A. Theatre Works has a huge library of performances which have been turned into audio. These plays range from the classics to modern plays and all with excellent casts. The beauty of the whole thing is that LATW takes the time to make sure the audio recording is perfect thus making the listener feel as though they are right in the middle of the audience for every performance.

    This time around I listened to the modern play “Blue/Orange” by Joe Penhall. This one intrigued me after I read the synopsis from L.A. Theatre Works; “Two psychiatrists—one new and inexperienced, the other his well-established mentor—battle over the diagnosis and treatment of Chris, a young black man who claims to be the son of African dictator Idi Amin.” I’m not sure what it was but it just sounded like it would be pretty thought-provoking, and it was.

    A young black man is about to be discharged from psychiatric supervision in a London hospital. His man doctor wants to keep him in for further observation due to some of his responses, for example a bowl of oranges sits on the table, and when asked what color the patient replies, “Blue.” Something is just not right, the patient also claims to be the son of Idi Amin, remember him from the 70s? He’s the dictator that ate his enemies. The problem is that the Doctor’s supervisor, sees all of the patient’s responses as merely products of his culture and that not everything is to be taken literally. The supervisor also sees in this a chance for another paper to be written to further his own career. With his clinicians disagreeing on the seriousness of his condition, his release becomes complicated by issues of race, class, and the definition of sanity itself.

    The play does a great job focusing on the complex issues of psychiatric treatment and throw into that the mix that the two white doctors are clueless when it comes to the black culture, it makes for a very intriguing story which goes back and forth as to who is really sane. The play does have some humorous moments which help the audience to digest some of the real hard-hitting issues covered.

     
  • gilwilson 10:08 PM on July 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , broken glass, David Dukes, drama, Jane Brucker, , , John Vickery, , , , Linda Purl, , , paralysis, ,   

    “Broken Glass” by Arthur Miller from “The Arthur Miller Collection” published by L.A. Theatre Works 

    “Broken Glass”
    by Arthur Miller
    from “The Arthur Miller Collection”
    published by L.A. Theatre Works
    Performed by: Jane Brucker, David Dukes, Lawrence Pressman, Linda Purl, John Vickery and JoBeth Williams.
    Approx 2 hours

    This play marks a bittersweet moment for me, in that it is the last performance in “The Arthur Miller Collection” from L.A. Theatre works. Bitter, because it is the last one and sweet, because after listening to these ten plays I can pretty much consider myself a scholar of Arthur Miller.

    While getting my degree in Theatre, I had the opportunity to study Arthur Miller, but L.A. Theatre Works’ performances are all top-notch. These performances are produced for audio in such a way that puts the listener in the middle of the audience, aurally. While I know well that theatre is a visual art as well, the words make the difference and when they are performed so well the visuals are just icing on the cake. L.A. Theatre Works productions are all icing and cake with great acting, subtle, yet effective, sound effects and great music that fit the settings of the plays.

    “Broken Glass” is set in 1938, and this psychological mystery begins when Sylvia Gellburg suddenly loses her ability to walk. Her husband is worried about the woman he adores and seeks help from the neighborhood doctor. After consulting with another doctor, Dr. Hyman cannot find any physical reason for her paralysis. The only clue lies in Sylvia’s obsession with news accounts from Germany where old men are being forced to clean the sidewalks with toothbrushes. Though she is safe in Brooklyn, Sylvia is terrified by Nazi violence, or is it something closer to home? It is up to Dr. Hyman to find the solution.

    Mr. Gellburg, in a way, also becomes the patient of Dr. Hyman as Mrs. Gellburg’s diagnosis is revealed to be hysterical paralysis. Mr. Gellberg is appalled at the idea that it is all in her head.

    Dr. Hyman learns that Mr. Gellburg goes out of his way at times to deny he is a Jew and other times to use being a Jew in his favor. This has created a fear in Mrs. Gellburg that is comes out even more as she reads newspaper stories or hears radio reports about the torture of the Jews. What it all comes down to is that the choices made whether you accept what is given or you make a stand for what you believe is the turning point in life and what you do determines who you are.

    A nice play and a very nice performance, that is well worth the time, money and effort to put into your listening list.

     
  • gilwilson 9:44 PM on July 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , Brian Cox, drama, , Jenny O’Hara, Kirsten Potter, , , , Saidah Arrika Ekulona,   

    “The Ride Down Mt. Morgan” by Arthur Miller 

    “The Ride Down Mt. Morgan”
    by Arthur Miller
    from “The Arthur Miller Collection”
    published by L.A. Theatre Works
    Performed by: Brian Cox, Jenny O’Hara, Amy Pietz, Kirsten Potter, Gregory Itzin and Saidah Arrika Ekulona
    Approx 2 hours

    Once again it’s time to listen to another play from “The Arthur Miller” collection from L.A. Theatre Works. I’ve been listening to this collection interspersed with all my other audiobook listening so I can stretch it out. There are ten plays in this collection and this is next to the last, I’m gonna miss having these two hours between books.

    What I like most about these audio recordings is that with the superb production quality, I feel as though I’m right in the middle of the performance, and with the great casting, the actors really bring these plays to life.

    Most of Arthur Miller’s plays are tragedies, but this one is kinda hard to categorize. The tragedy of this play takes place at the beginning and how the main character tries to weasel out of this tragedy almost turns this play into a comedy.

    Lyman Felt is an insurance agent/mogul. He’s made enough money to own two homes one in New York City and one in Elmira, New York. His money has also made it possible for him to support two families. Those two families are his own, you see, Lyman is a bigamist. He has two loving wives one child with each of those wives.

    The tragedy that begins this play is that Lyman, while driving down the icy road down Mt. Morgan goes off the road and ends up in the hospital. As he awakens in the hospital he is stuck in bed as the nurse tells him his wife is waiting to see him. As Lyman comes to full consciousness, he begins to realize it’s his wife of more than thirty years, Theo, is the first to visit. The problem is Mt. Morgan is near his Elmira home where his wife of only nine years, Leah, lives. Sure enough both wives end up meeting and the issue of Lyman’s bigamy is confronted head on.

    When confronted, Lyman states that the two options in life are to be true to others, which includes a hypocritical world, or to himself, and that he has chosen the himself. He justifies his actions by explaining he has given them good lives, has supported them financially and emotionally, and has been a good father. This is all presented in a series of flashbacks that are so well presented in this performance that I always knew a flashback was happening. Lyman goes on to say that the two women have been happier with this arrangement than they would have been if they had been the only wife. As reasons for this he cites domestic boredom, routine, and the angst of being trapped in the same relationship forever. The play uses flashbacks to take us to previous situations both families have lived.

    So this brings up the question; Which wife will take him back? Through the flashbacks and some rather humorous discussions between wives, attorneys, nurses and Lyman this performance will make you chuckle, and, at times, cringe at Lyman’s justifications.

     
  • gilwilson 10:33 PM on June 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amy Irving, , , , , , drama, Harris Yulin, , , , , , Timothy West   

    “The Price” by Arthur Miller from “The Arthur Miller Collection” published by L.A. Theatre Works 

    “The Price”
    by Arthur Miller
    from “The Arthur Miller Collection”
    published by L.A. Theatre Works
    starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Amy Irving, Timothy West and Harris Yulin.
    Approx 2 hours

    Once again I’m continuing my trek through this collection of 10 plays by Arthur Miller published by L.A. Theatre Works, “The Arthur Miller Collection.” This one is number eight in the collection, the plays could be heard in any order, I’m just going through them as they are presented in the collection, with the exception of “Death of a Salesman” which I had to hear first.

    This performance features a cast of Richard Dreyfuss, Amy Irving, Timothy West and Harris Yulin. Richard Dreyfuss has always been one of my favorite actors and he does a superb job in the role of Victor Franz, A police sergeant, eligible for retirement and approaching his fiftieth birthday. His ability to sound completely like a New York cop was superb in this performance. All the actors were excellent in this performance, I just think Dreyfuss stood out, most likely because he is the main character, but definitely a stand out performance.

    The character of Victor Franz opens the play with his wife, Esther, as they both prepare to sell off Victor’s father’s house full of furniture. The house is about to be demolished and the lifetime of collected furniture must go. Victor has called in a furniture dealer, Gregory Solomon, to make an offer on all the furniture. As they are waiting on Solomon, Victor begins reminiscing about his life in that home taking care of his father. The father was unable to take care of himself after Victor’s mother died, so Victor quit school, in which he was studying to most likely become a doctor. Victor joined the force to support his father, and his brother, Walter continued in school to become a very successful doctor.

    Victor has some anger built up toward his brother because he would only send five dollars a month to support. During the process of coming up with a price for all the furniture, Walter shows up at the house and all the past comes up and angers flare. The true source or resentment comes out and the brothers go back and forth talking about the price each had to pay when their father broke down.

    The play builds and builds until the emotional end to which not all is solved, but barriers have been brought down. This play is one of your typical Arthur Miller plays depicting the struggles of every man. Miller was a great writer of our everyday life and dreams, of the most American kinds of struggles, disappointments and confusions and was able to portray those in the simplest of settings for his plays.

     
  • gilwilson 9:55 PM on May 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: after the fall, Al Ruscio, Amy Aquino, amy brenneman, , Anthony LaPaglia, , Claudette Nevins, drama, , Kenny Williams., , marilyn monroe, Natalija Nogulich, ,   

    “After the Fall” by Arthur Miller from “The Arthur Miller Collection” published by L.A. Theatre Works 

    “After the Fall”
    by Arthur Miller
    from “The Arthur Miller Collection”
    published by L.A. Theatre Works
    performed by: Amy Brenneman, Anthony LaPaglia, Amy Pietz, Amy Aquino, Gregory Itzin, Claudette Nevins, Natalija Nogulich, Al Ruscio, Raphael Sbarge and Kenny Williams.
    2 hours and 4 minutes.

    Continuing my listening through “The Arthur Miller Collection” from L.A. Theatre Works with this one being the sixth of ten plays. “After the Fall” is one of Miller’s least famous plays but one that is extremely autobiographical. The play takes place inside the tortured mind of a 40-year-old lawyer. Quentin is haunted by his disastrous affair with a needy sex symbol, a character rumored to be based on Marilyn Monroe, Miller’s second wife.

    The part of Quentin is played by Anthony LaPaglia, and his voicework for this performance is perfect. He portrays the tortured soul of Quentin who struggles with his problems with women which may have started with his mother. When Quentin was a child the family had the nanny take him out for a walk and when he returned the house was empty. When the family returned back from vacation his mother explained he was too young and she needed a break. Seems like this would psychically damage any kid.

    The part of Maggie, the sex symbol, which could be based on Marilyn Monroe, is performed by Amy Brenneman. I remember Amy portraying a tough cop on the TV series “NYPD Blue,” but in this play she plays, well, Marilyn Monroe. Her voicework is superb, in that she sounds exactly like a squeaky voiced blonde. I had a hard time seeing that tough cop in this performance.

    One of the things I really enjoyed about the is performance was the surrealism of the whole story. The play takes place in the head of Quentin, and the scenes all portray various memories of his failed relationships and trying to take care of Maggie as she becomes more and more famous. Through this process the story is told non-linearly, in other words it is told through a series of memories not in their actual order of occurrence. I’ve always loved stories told in this manner and as this performance progressed I was sucked into the story by making me have to tie in all the events.

    The echo effects on the voices of memories as they come into focus is a production aspect that makes this performance work perfectly in an audio format.

    With great production and perfect vocal performances this release from L.A. Theatre Works delivers a superb Arthur Miller play that, while it may not be as famous as “Death of a Salesman,” should be on the list of any theatre fan.

     
  • gilwilson 3:22 PM on May 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Charles Cioffi, Don Tieri, drama, Ed O’Neill, greek tragedy, Harry Hamlin, immigration, , , Mary McDonnell, Peter Morse,   

    “A View from the Bridge” by Arthur Miller (from “The Arthur Miller Collection” produced by L.A. Theatre Works) 

    “A View from the Bridge”
    by Arthur Miller
    from “The Arthur Miller Collection”
    Published by L.A. Theatre Works
    Performed by; Charles Cioffi, Harry Hamlin, Jamie Hanes, Mary McDonnell, Peter Morse, Ed O’Neill, Amy Pietz and Don Tieri
    1 Hour 33 minutes

    Back in my college days I studied and got a degree in Theatre. During that time I had the chance to talk about, see performed, write reports on plays by Arthur Miller. One of the things I noticed back then was the similarities between Miller’s writings and ancient Greek tragedies. Miller’s stories told of how our actions have reactions and most of the time he was quick to show that our bad actions had bad reactions. In some cases those bad actions were even full of good intentions, such as the father in “All My Sons” training his son in the basement for baseball, but once he got on the field was distracted by the sounds. This led to a son that when he reached adulthood knew nothing but pitching and even that was flawed, so his life was ruined.

    I’m still listening to the ten plays featured in “The Arthur Miller Collection” from L.A. Theatre Works and this time around just finished with “A View from the Bridge.” This is one play I was looking forward to hearing because during my studies I never had the chance to see this one performed. After finishing this production, I’m in awe, for several reasons. One reason is the main character Eddie Carbone is portrayed by Ed O’Neill. I know I think of Mr. O’Neill as Al Bundy from the “Married with Children” television series, and have a hard time shaking that image, but after hearing this performance, it’s going to be hard seeing him as Al Bundy. Ed O’Neill carries this play in this performance and thanks to the excellent production from L.A. Theatre Works, I felt as though I was smack dab in the middle of the audience.

    The play is set in 1950s Brooklyn, NY in an Italian neighborhood. Eddie Carbone is a longshoreman who lives with his wife, Beatrice, and his orphaned niece, Catherine. Eddie is very protective of Catherine, and at times maybe too protective. There are times that the subtext may imply that Eddie won’t let Catherine out in the world because maybe he wants her for himself. Filled with Freudian moments the relationship between Eddie and Catherine in this play could warrant an entire analysis.

    When Beatrice’s two cousins come into the country illegally they come to stay in Eddie’s home. The tension rises when one of the cousins and Catherine develop a friendship that leads to marriage. Eddie insists he only wants to marry her so he can become a legal citizen. When they begin talking about getting married soon Eddie calls the Immigration Department in to take the two men in and deport them. One of the cousins was in the country to earn money to send back to his wife and kids to provide for a better life and takes this as a personal attack from Eddie.

    One of the things that makes this play even more comparable to a Greek tragedy is that it employs both a chorus and a narrator in the form of Alfieri, the attorney who Eddie seeks out for advice.

    As a side here, this story is yet another play written to portray the McCarthyism that was sweeping the nation during the 50s.

    This audio performance is available in “The Arthur Miller Collection,” from L.A. Theatre Works.

     
    • Dennis 12:33 AM on March 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      “A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller (from The
      Arthur Miller Collection produced by L.A. Theatre Works) | Gil T.
      ‘s Pleasures” Panel Curtains was indeed a remarkable post. If only there was a whole lot more websites like this particular one on the actual world wide web. Nonetheless, thanks a lot for your time, Julius

      Like

  • gilwilson 10:52 PM on May 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , carol kane, , drama, , mccarthyism, , , , salem witch hunt, salem witches, , , ,   

    “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller from the “Arthur Miller Collection” from L.A. Theatre Works 

    “The Crucible”
    by Arthur Miller
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
    Included in “The Arthur Miller Collection”
    Starring: Irene Aranga, Rene Auberjonois, Ed Begley Jr, Georgia Brown, Jack Coleman, Bud Cort, Richard Dreyfuss, Judyann Elder, Hector Elizondo, Fionnula Flanagan, Ann Hearne, Carol Kane, Stacy Keach, Anna Sophie Loewenberg, Marian Mercer, Franklyn Seales, Madolyn Smith, Joe Spano and Michael York
    118 minutes

    Continuing on in this collection of 10 plays from L.A. Theatre Works’ “The Arthur Miller Collection,” I’ve just finished with a very cool play that has a bit of a double meaning. “The Crucible” was Arthur Miller’s answer to the Communism accusations from McCarthyism and the blacklisting of accused communists. During the days when Senator McCarthy was finding Communists hiding behind every doorway, Arthur Miller was questioned by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American Activities in 1956 and convicted of “contempt of Congress” for refusing to identify others present at meetings he had attended. So what seemed like a witch hunt Arthur was spurred to write “The Crucible.” While “The Crucible” may not be entirely historically accurate it does represent the scare tactics and deplorable actions during the Salem Witch trials and the Committee on Un-American Activities.

    L. A. Theatre works has produced a great version of this play with some of the greatest actors ever. Each one brings to audio life this play that portrays a dark time in history and serves as an allegory for another dark time centuries later. The cast alone is enough to move the play along in this production, but there is one other “actor” that is not credited that really allowed me as a listener to feel the burdens of the convicted Satanists, that “actor” was the special effects, especially those of the chains used to hold the prisoners. The sound effects of the chains was so real and yet surreal in that their audio level was promoted to the point where I could feel the weight of the chains myself. This really made the experience more life-like.

    When a girl of the village of Salem, Massachusetts is found unconscious, and is suspected because of dabbling in witchcraft accusations begin to fly. What soon happens is that one of the local farmers’ wife is accused by a girl who once had an affair with the farmer and wants the wife out of the way. Soon many of the women and even some men are bound in chains and thrown in jail. With the threat of unChristian activities set to destroy the very fabric of the town and government, the accused are threatened to either confess their dealings with Satan or be hanged. Even if they have nothing to confess if they don’t confess they get hanged.

    In a play that presents the choice of lying to live and destroy your reputation or tell the truth and be killed and thus destroying the reputation of your family, the drama and suspense abounds. The language written in the play pulls from the sound of the language of the Bible and each actor makes the words sound so natural that it adds more depth to the play. Top it off with this excellent cast and production and this is one version of “The Crucible” you won’t want to miss.

     
  • gilwilson 12:51 PM on April 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , drama, james farantino, julie harris, , , performance, , , ,   

    “All My Sons” by Arthur Miller from the “Arthur Miller Collection” by L.A. Theatre Works 

    “All My Sons”
    by Arthur Miller
    included in the “Arthur Miller Collection” from L.A. Theatre Works
    Performed by: James Farentino, Arye Gross, Julie Harris, Mitchell Hebert, Naomi Jacobson, Barbara Klein, Paul Morella, Michaeleen O’Neil, Nathan Taylor and Jerry Whiddon.
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
    Approx. 2 Hours.

    I’m continuing my run through this collection of 10 plays by Arthur Miller that is “The Arthur Miller Collection” from L.A. Theatre works and this next play is “All My Sons.”  I’m going to include this in one of the depressing plays from Arthur Miller, the entire premise is sad, and in fact this one really reminded me of a classic Greek Tragedy, in that a character committed an act that haunts him until his tragic end.  This time around the act is to allow faulty aircraft parts to go out during war and end up killing pilots.

    Before we talk about the story I have to talk about the production itself.  L.A. Theatre Works produces plays in audio format and every one I have heard, so far, has been a joy to hear.  Not necessarily due to the subject matter, as this play proves, but in the production itself.   Each performance is recorded with a live cast and with all the elements combined the listener feels as though they are placed smack-dab in the middle of the audience.  Being a student of theatre I was leery at the idea of theatrical performances in audio format.  The reason being, theatre is a visual art.  But the excellent production in all of LATW’s releases have taken the visual part out of the equation and mad these fully enjoyable in audio only format.  In all my previous listenings, LATW has pulled this off perfectly.

    With that said there was one minor scene in this story that just didn’t work right for me.  I’m not sure if it was because I was missing something visually or what but it just didn’t feel right.  It’s the scene where Kate’s brother, George comes back to confront Joe about the criminal act that put George & Kate’s father in prison while Joe went free.  When he arrives he was very angry, then suddenly in the scene he was congenial and ready to go out to dinner, only to immediately go back to being angry and storming off.  The mood changes in this scene seemed forced and just didn’t make sense at the moment.  However the scene is needed and later on in the performance all goes back to being perfectly performed and produced that that scene is forgiven.   By no means let that keep you from listening to this otherwise stellar performance of “All My Sons.”

    Another aspect of all the productions of LATW is the casting.  Each time I hear one of these performances I love knowing the actors names.  In this performance Arye Gross portrays Chris the son who is the center of the play, and he owns the part.  His portrayal is spot on and superb.  Sure, he’s got the support of James Farantino and Julie Harris, but Gross just makes the character come to life in his performance.

    In August 1946 Joe Keller, a self-made businesmann,  who once manufactured parts for the war effort, is contemplating a tree that has been taken down by a recent storm.  The tree was planted in memory of his son, Larry, who died in the war.   His son, Chris, is visiting and has invited Larry’s girlfriend to the homestead to ask her to marry him.   The problem with all of this is that Kate, Joe’s wife and Chris’s mother, believes Larry is still alive and will coming back.

    Ann’s father is in prison for selling faulty engine blocks for p-40 aircraft that ended up killing the pilots that flew with them.  He claims that he alerted Joe to the problem but Joe had the parts sent out anyway so he wouldn’t lose the government contract.  Joe says he was sick the day that Steve, Ann’s father, called and did not know.  A neighbor reveals that everyone on the block thinks Joe is guilty.

    Kate says Joe cannot be guilty because that would mean he killed their son and all those other boys.   In a play where family secrets are kept tight and the final outcome could destroy everyone, Arthur Miller has written a depressing yet eye-opening play.  The idea of business matters over safety is a lesson that is apropos even today.

     
    • Tanya/ dog eared copy 1:37 PM on April 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I just posted my own review of this same production on my own blog a couple of days ago and I find interesting that we both mentioned the scene with George as being problematic and; that we both referred to Greek Tragedy! However, whereas you saw that scene as an anomaly in an otherwise excellent production, I was less impressed with the overall performance. I found the unrelenting fervor a bit wearing.

      Like

      • gilwilson 2:40 PM on April 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Just went over to your blog and read…yeah you weren’t too happy overall.
        I thought the play was very strong otherwise, Arye Gross seemed to carry this performance for me. And yes that scene….ugh…It just didn’t quite make sense as it happened, but later in the play I understood what happened, but (and this is coming from an audio professional) i think the problem with this may have been an editing problem. I think there should have been longer silences or bigger gaps between the emotional changes. I would love to see this performed live and try to figure out what is missing in that scene.

        While I don’t full agree, i do like your “ham-fisted” description of the scene…just the term ham-fisted, i guess.

        When I read this play in college my comparison back then was to a Greek Tragedy as are most of Arthur Miller’s plays. He definitely wrote some tragic plays…death of a salesman was also a good Greek Tragedy type play. (btw, since you have the same collection I have, you’ll be listening to that one soon, I’m guessing, Stacy Keach rules that performance.)

        I also see you are listening to “We’re Alive” I loved that series…how’s that one going for you?

        Like

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