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Tracy Letts , Benjamin Walker and Annette Bening in “All My Sons”


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“Mother: What more can we be?

Chris: You can be better! Once and for all you can know there’s a universe of people outside and you’re responsible to it and, unless you know that, you threw away your son because that’s how he died.” 

Arthur Miller, All My Sons

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I had the good fortune to take in the current Broadway production of the Arthur Miller play All My Sons yesterday. A powerful, beautifully crafted  play with memorable  performances made it one of those moments when I truly appreciate the shared experience of live theater. There’s something hopeful, even with a darkly set play that bares our faults and inadequacies, in sitting in a theater filled with people who you can feel being moved by the material and the performances. I woke up this morning thinking about this play which is a pretty indicator of how well it hit the mark for me.

Written in 1947 and set in the aftermath of World War II, it’s a drama that maintains its impact and relevance. Times may have changed some things, but the unbrave new world it presented then are recognizable in these times as well. The conflict between those who fail to accept responsibility for their actions in the name of self-preservation and those willing to sacrifice and hold themselves accountable is as cogent now as it was then.

There were lines, such as the exchange between the mother, Kate and her remaining son, Chris, (played masterfully by Annette Bening and Benjamin Walker) that leapt off the stage for me. But the moment that I felt was the most memorable came without words. It was at the pivotal point where the father, Joe (in a tremendous performance from Tracy Letts), silently reads the letter from his MIA son that sets the course for the final act. I don’t know how long he read in silence. It might have only fifteen seconds or so but it felt like it a minute or more. The silence of the theater was absolute as though everyone there was holding their breath in anticipation of his response.

It was a great moment from what I feel was great performance. Glad to have taken a short break to have experienced it. Makes me want to do better, be better.

So, this Sunday musical selection came about as we were waiting for our car to be brought around. Sitting in the lobby and  Sly and the Family Stone’s Sing a Simple Song was playing in the background. I felt my head boobing to the beat and I look across the lobby and see another guy sand wife both reflexively moving up and down on the balls of their feet to the beat. Thought that maybe the world would be a better place with Sly being played more. Give a listen and have a good day.

 

 

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