All My Sons Royal Exchange, Manchester

All My Sons
All My Sons

All hail Don’s rising Sons

With the profit motive high on the political agenda this would seem an especially appropriate time to revive Arthur Miller’s essential study of a family confronting the cost of capitalism.

In All My Sons it is the greed that men do that cannot be interred with their bones and in a joint production with black-led theatre company Talawa it strives for, and achieves, an added universality.

It is still set in 1947, and some of the unchanged dialogue of the opening scenes demands audiences need to be colour-blind to their knowledge of Black American History, but this is such a monumental play it deftly transcends cultural barriers.

In dealing with a family’s grief, guilt and complicity Miller peels away a story of such intense drama that the big reveal at its closing moments still loses nothing of its shock value.

In the surrounds of this venue the pressure builds up – in a story that revolves around the wartime sale of faulty engine cylinder heads – until both men and machinery develop fatal cracks.

“It’s nothing personal, it’s just business,” pleads the family patriarch, a performance from Don Warrington that grows in stature after what seems like a nervy start.

There is some hesitancy too among one or two of the support cast, reluctant to make their voices heard in a theatre space that really should not present such problems.

There are no such difficulties though with Dona Croll, bearing a mother’s grief, or with Exchange newcomers Kemi-Bo Jacobs and Chike Okonkwo, the young couple whose future happiness will hinge on a lie.

It’s maybe not a definitive production – there are bound to be comparisons with John

Thaw’s acclaimed portrayal of Joe Keller back in 1988 – but amidst such potent writing no-one can deny the power of this performance.

It continues here until October 26.

David Upton