All My Sons - June 20 - June 24, 2018

Out of the Box Theatre Company, Inc. (NYC)

 Program Notes 



All My Sons is an indictment of American culture, which is defined as tragedy, both literally and figuratively; which is based on materialism, commerce, and meretricious measures of success; and which involves the self-destructive chase of such success by ignoring and rationalizing one’s actions, so basely and selfishly motivated. Violence (war especially), greed, and crass materialism necessitate unmoral and immoral behavior in order to turn a profit and realize goals at any cost.


Thus, Miller has a field day with contemporary, or modern, life: a contemporary play, based literally and figuratively on Greek tragedy, even down to the unities: one day, one place, and based on a single action. Classically, also, there is tight dramaturgy with tragic irony infusing the exposition, the rising action, the crisis, and the intensely dramatic outcome.


In the overall trope, Miller demonstrates the far-reaching effects of our actions. Truistically, all we do affects others deleteriously and/or destructively, especially those closest to us, our and others’ sons and daughters, and ultimately ourselves. Yes, no man [woman] is an isle unto himself [herself], as the poet so aptly said. Not only do our actions reach out, but they also strike at our core. Note the symbolism, by the way, of the broken tree limb lying lifeless in the yard: yes, the lost son.


And finally, once again in the world of literature, life is seen as a voyage of self-discovery, even by the most obtuse. Just note the main character’s trajectory. Nothing stands in the way of truth, no matter how people try to shield themselves and others from its explosive force.


—Mike Goldman




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