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FET Presents a Powerful Cast In Production of All My Sons

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 02:04

Courtesy of PPFive.com

Mike Drosos and Matt Burns directed the play for the weekend of April 20.

 

Something is rotten in the Keller household. Joe Keller, a former factory owner, has recently been exonerated after being charged with shipping defective airplane parts to the U.S. Air Force that killed over 20 World War II pilots.  He lives with his family: a wife, Kate, and son, Chris, in the shadow of his other son Larry’s disappearance. His former business partner, who was in the factory the day that the bad parts were shipped out, was not so lucky and was imprisoned. Thr partner’s daughter (and Larry’s girlfriend), Annie, has dropped in for a visit. She distresses Joe’s paranoid wife and delights his love-struck son. The plot of All My Sons details the ensuing social hurricane that not only uproots the household’s foundation but also sweeps up the Kellers’ family members, lovers, neighbors and political enemies in the process.

Mike Drosos, FCRH ’13, and Matt Burns, FCRH ’13, the directors of All My Sons, successfully and masterfully interpreted Miller’s script. In creating the domestic microcosm that is the Keller’s neighborhood, Drosos and Burns effectively set up a series of conflicts that evocated a sort of Rube Goldberg-like social mechanism. Each of the characters’ actions created an almost tangible ripple in the Kellers’ community.  Annie Deever’s off-stage telephone conversation with her brother in the first act, while brief, cast a dreadful vibe upon the audience that was only heightened by his arrival in the second act. Frank Lubey’s conversation with Kate in the play’s opening scene created a similarly bleak atmosphere of impending disappointment.  Drosos and Burns successfully brought out the “Christ-like quality,” as director Matt Burns puts it, of many of the characters — culminating in a living medieval pieta that serves as the play’s closing image.

The women in the production gave performances so gratifying that Miller might as well have named his drama All My Daughters. Kristin Guerin, FCRH ’12, in her last appearance on the Fordham stage, gave a performance that could only be described as immaculate. As Kate Keller, the aching matriarch of the Keller household, Guerin created a character whose often-belligerent insistence that her son is still alive simultaneously grated on the nerves and begged sympathy of characters and audience members alike. Isobel Menard, FCLC ’13, excelled as Annie Deever, a difficult role that perhaps best exemplifies the slippery spectrum of idealism and realism that All My Sons seeks to deconstruct. Shannon Morrall was a strong presence as the contemptuous Sue Bayliss. Though on stage for only two scenes, Morrall nearly stole the show with her perfect physicality and subtly aggressive tone.  Furthermore, she seemed to be the only performer who could fully convey her character’s frustration and hostility without increasing her vocal volume, a welcome relief from the incessant shouting matches that permeated Burns’ and Drosos’ interpretation of the domestic drama.   Pam Zazzarino, FCRH ’14, shined as the bubbly Lydia Lubey, an idealistic and eminently cheerful member of the local community who represents the philosophical antithesis of Mrs. Bayliss.

The male actors gave similarly effective performances. Matt Van Orden, FCRH ’12, was truly captivating as Joe Keller. Orden gave a performance worthy of a professional actor, seeming almost to effortlessly gain the audience’s sympathy with a character that was obviously guilty of some wrongdoing. Come next year, his charisma on and off the stage will be missed by the Fordham community. Steve Tyson, FCRH ’14, as Chris Keller, displayed remarkable range as a complicated character whose feelings toward his parents, missing brother and Annie culminated in several poignant emotional outbursts. The second act of the play marked the entrance (and exit) of George Deever, played by Kyle Forrester, FCRH ’12. Forrester, who displayed not only a superior understanding of his role but also the ability to maintain an aura of unappeasable resentment for the extended duration of his scene, lacked the theatricality to deliver melodramatic lines. Despite this one shortcoming, his confrontation with the Keller family was an intense and memorable sequence. Tim Rozmus, GSB ’13, as Jim Bayliss, was an engaging comic foil to the other characters.  Of all the actors, Rozmus perhaps showed the best comprehension of his character in an off-stage interview where he identified Jim as a fictional extension of the author himself. Johnny Kelley’s, FCRH ’13, talent was disappointingly underused in his turn as Frank Lubey.

Despite the director’s efficacious interpretation of the piece, the production’s “experimental” aspect did not seem well-developed. In an interview after the show, Burns identified the experimental aspect as one of internalization and reflection. This was achieved by editing the parts that included a younger character named Bert to suggest Joe was recalling the boy’s meaningful statements about jail instead of experiencing them for the first time.  On opening night, however, the audience talked loudly during these segments, rendering them inaudible and completely useless. Furthermore, the directors ultimately sabotaged their concept of an “internalized” All My Sons by turning many of the tenser conflicts into shouting matches. 

Despite these passing anomalies, FET put on a magnificent production of a classic play that was, perhaps, Fordham’s most successful dramatic endeavor this year.

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