2015 Phoebe Rees Awards
Best Sound: Peter Wintle
Best Creative Lighting: James Linham
Best Leading Actress: Karen Trevis as Kate Keller
Best Youth Under 16: Boris Findlay as Bert
Best Supporting Actor: Edgar Phillips as Dr Jim Bayliss
Joe Keller is a prosperous manufacturer enjoying the fruits of his wealth. He is a jovial man with a loyal wife, Kate, and a devoted son, Chris, who will inherit his father’s business. Miller said that he started the first scenes slowly, without much action, but he plants unmistakable hints of menace early in the play.
Larry’s death is linked to a hidden crime: Joe Keller knowingly sold defective engines to the Army, causing the deaths of twenty-one pilots. Joe has pushed the blame onto his innocent partner, who is serving a jail sentence. Kate will not accept Larry’s death because Larry’s death will point to Joe as the murderer of his own son. Because Larry did not fly any of the defective planes, Joe considers himself innocent in his son’s death; Anne, however, reveals a letter from Larry in which Larry condemns his father for the deaths of the pilots and declares his intent to fly a suicide mission. Joe, who bears responsibility for his own son’s death as well as for the deaths of the other pilots, commits suicide.
All My Sons is based upon a true story, which Arthur Miller's then mother-in-law pointed out in an Ohio newspaper.
The news story described how in 1941–43 the Wright Aeronautical Corporation based in Ohio had conspired with army inspection officers to approve defective aircraft engines destined for military use. The story of defective engines had reached investigators working for Senator Harry Truman's congressional investigative board after several Wright aircraft assembly workers informed on the company; they would later testify under oath before Congress. In 1944, three Army Air Force officers, Lt. Col. Frank C. Greulich, Major Walter A. Ryan, and Major William Bruckmann were relieved and later convicted of neglect of duty.
Larry, Joe’s son, was missing in action in World War II. After three years, he is presumed dead, yet Kate refuses to accept his death. As son, brother, and lover, Larry’s haunting presence overshadows the entire action. The night before the play opens, a storm knocks down Larry’s memorial apple tree, a sign of hidden guilt and the fall from innocence. Anne, Larry’s old girlfriend, is staying in his room, which still contains Larry’s clothes and his freshly polished shoes. Chris wants to marry Anne, but he is not sure that she has accepted Larry’s death. Even after Anne has accepted his proposal, Chris still kisses her more as Larry’s brother than as her fiancé. Also, as long as Kate will not accept Larry’s death, Chris cannot have his mother’s blessing to marry Anne.
In All My Sons, Miller explores the hidden order of the universe. The crime that Keller tried to avoid comes back to haunt him. His dead son’s voice condemns him from the grave. Although this play has been criticized for its melodramatic effects, All My Sons adds a tragic dimension to a realistic drama.