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Theater review: 'All My Sons' at the Ruskin Group Theatre

August 20, 2010 |  7:00 am

AMS-Comperatore_and_Linke_at_RGT Written in the boom years following World War II, Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” issued a clarion warning against the pitfalls of untrammeled capitalism. In most of his works, Miller had a message to impart and an ax to grind, and “Sons” is no exception. But aside from its somewhat obvious socialist message, “Sons” remains an intricately plotted, beautifully well-crafted drama with the heft and humanism of Greek tragedy.

Director Edward Edwards does not attempt any revisionist flourishes in the current production of “Sons” at the Ruskin Group, but although his simple staging may seem somewhat tame at intervals, it has, on the whole, an emotional authenticity that honors the play’s timeless themes.

That’s largely due to the fortuitous casting of Paul Linke and Catherine Telford in the roles of Joe and Kate Keller, the embattled couple who, like Willy and Linda in “Death of a Salesman,” are about to experience the brutal downside of the American dream. 

Bluff, hearty and tainted, Linke’s Joe is a man with a guilty secret whose carefully maintained bonhomie is about to fracture at the seams, while Telford’s deceptively frail and half-mad Kate possesses a steel infrastructure that could withstand any combat mission. Their linchpin performances set an impressive standard for this thoroughly worthy cast. As Chris, the Kellers’ surviving son, Dominic Comperatore delivers a slice-of-life performance without artifice but misses an underlying toughness under Chris’ brimming sensitivity. And as Ann, the dead son’s fiancée, now in love with Chris, Austin Highsmith offsets her physical beauty with old-shoes matter-of-factness – a combination as refreshing as it is rare.

-- F. Kathleen Foley

“All My Sons,” Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Road, Santa Monica. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays.  Ends Oct. 2.  $25.  (310) 397-3244.  Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.

Photo: Dominic Comperatore and Paul Linke. Credit: Agnes Mayyari