My wife and I had the pleasure of seeing Arthur Miller’s All My Sons last night at Plainville High School. Since many who read this blog are former PHS students, you’ll be happy to know that the performances you remember remain alive and well at your Alma Mater.
For readers unfamiliar with Miller, the title probably sounds like a 90’s sit-com—and not a very good one at that. But this particular All My Sons, although it did offer a few laughs, delved deeper into human interaction than, oh let’s say My Two Dads or Hey, Dude.
I’m not here to promote or advertise—as the program cover (below) indicates, the performances have ended—nor am I here to present a plot summary, though the drama’s central issue of human responsibility is more significant than ever, considering the current state of our nation. It was difficult last night to listen to a character like the protagonist Joe Keller and not denounce the perniciousness of America’s current “me-first” populism and materialism.
Still, it was the production itself that mattered. As I said earlier, it was staged at Plainville High School by Plainville High School students, and there was nothing amateurish or high-schoolish about it. Nor was there anything contrived or artificial about the audience reaction at the end: plenty of damp eyes and Kleenex—nervous laughter and maybe even exhaustion: we had been allowed too many glimpses into too many secrets and we weren’t comfortable with any of it.
Of course the worst-kept secret in central Connecticut is that the play’s director, Jeff Blanchette—an instructor at PHS—is a master of eliciting professional performances from young actors: nobody in that audience last night believed for one second that these were kids reading a script; instead they were us trying to figure out how we’re supposed to lead our lives. Some plaudits the performers must share with Jeff.
By the same token, to single out any actor’s performance over another’s would be unfair and pointless—not when the excellence was so uniform. And though I’m amazed every year by the fervor, expertise, and professionalism Jeff brings to his task, after all this time maybe I shouldn’t be.