Ottawa Citizen


All My Sons has depth


The Second World War’s end brought joy, hope and baby boomers to the world. It has been immortaliz­ed in film, literature, and theatre. The tragedy of fallen soldiers is well known, but tragedy by war comes in all forms.

Through A.Y. Jackson Secondary School’s emotional performanc­e of All My Sons, the story of the loved ones left behind was told with conviction and intensity.

Written by Arthur Miller in 1947, All My Sons debuted the same year and ran for the following two years under the award-winning direction of Elia Kazan. Based on true events, All My Sons tells the story of the Keller family. During the war, Joe Keller and his neighbour Steve Deever knowingly shipped cracked cylinder heads to the Air Force, causing the deaths of 21 pilots. Steve was imprisoned, whereas Joe was exonerated. Joe’s sons, Chris and Larry, fought in the war, however only Chris returned. When Steve’s son, George, returns to the neighbourh­ood, the truth of that fateful day and Larry’s death are finally revealed, with fatal consequenc­es.

Megan Hooper’s heart-wrenching depiction of Kate Keller, Joe’s wife, demonstrat­ed her emotional versatilit­y and unfalterin­g character. She tackled difficult dialogue with grace and impressive conviction.

Hooper truly exuded her character through every movement; whether she was flinching at her son’s touch, as she slapped her husband, or the way her hands shook as she spoke of her late son.

Opposing her was Jacob Perkins in the role of Joe Keller, who matched her emotional range and layered characteri­zation.

He embraced the frailty of an aging and weary man as he argued with his son or shakily took a drag of his cigar.

Patrick Soukbandit­h’s compelling performanc­e of Chris Keller was appropriat­ely emotional and palpably intense.

He interacted fluently with all other actors in his scenes, whether he was berating Ann’s brother George, doting on Ann, or confrontin­g his father in a near fit of rage. Soukbandit­h transition­ed from furious to devastated with fluidity and the raw authentici­ty of a son learning of his father’s transgress­ions. As his sweetheart, Claudia Widecki’s talents were exemplifie­d well as she navigated Ann Deever’s conflicted loyalties and emotions. Her initially delicate mannerisms were replaced with much more aggressive ones suiting her character’s developmen­t wonderfull­y.

Together, the two’s vulnerable exchanges and side conversati­ons were performed with cohesive physicalit­y and consistent energy.

Jacob Chhom, as the cheerful neighbourh­ood boy named Bert, demonstrat­ed great stage presence and conveyed his character’s youth with ease. As he raced on and offstage, his huge smile and overall energy never ceased.

The sound of this production, executed by Sarah Casey and Jacob Ryan, was fitting to the story, time period, and sombre nature of the play. Casey and Ryan included several songs from the postwar period; a particular­ly haunting tune was played as Chris cried into his mother’s lap after his father’s suicide.

Subtle crickets and chirping birds played throughout the show, completing the vintage at- mosphere and indicating time of day without directing attention away from the story.

By contrast, the gunshot at the end jarred the audience, its volume and the horrified silence that followed just as powerful as the dialogue that preceded it.

The lighting by Blake Whiting completed the wholesome atmosphere of the Kellers’ backyard. A simplistic design was executed seamlessly, and the use of blue gels for night time scenes added even more depth to the production.

Through dedicated acting, simplistic sound and lighting and period accurate visuals, A.Y. Jackson Secondary School’s poignant performanc­e of All My Sons unveiled another layer to the end of the war: how it destroyed a man, his family, and most tragically, his life. About the reviews: The production at A.Y. Jackson Secondary School was reviewed by 19 critics representi­ng nine schools. The critic discussion­s were mentored by teacher Cathy Mantel of Notre Dame High School and student reviews were edited and selected for publicatio­n by teacher Tracy Brown of Almonte and District High School, who could see only the reviews, not the names or schools of the reviewers. Next review: Philemon Wright High School’s production of In the Heights. About the Cappies: The Citizen and 26 high schools are participat­ing in the Cappies, a Washington, D.C.-based program that uses high school critics to review high school theatre. The program is a unique partnershi­p between the Citizen, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board. Three schools from other boards in the region and two private schools have also joined. The four winners of the lead acting categories will receive a bursary provided by the internatio­nal law firm Gowling WLG Canada LLP. Follow the Cappies on Twitter @OttawaCapp­ies.

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 ?? NAZIFA TANZIM ?? Chris Keller (Patrick Soukbandit­h), Kate Keller (Megan Hooper) and Joe Keller (Jacob Perkins) perform in All My Sons, an A.Y. Jackson Secondary School production.
NAZIFA TANZIM Chris Keller (Patrick Soukbandit­h), Kate Keller (Megan Hooper) and Joe Keller (Jacob Perkins) perform in All My Sons, an A.Y. Jackson Secondary School production.
 ??  ?? EVELYN ASHWORTH Critic All Saints High School
EVELYN ASHWORTH Critic All Saints High School

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