The posters had been enticing me on every tube journey for weeks; the reviewers were falling over them-selves to find enough superlatives; it was a dull Saturday evening, and I hadn’t been to the theatre for ages… so last weekend I took myself to see Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at the Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue.
There’s always a concern, when people have raved about something quite so much, that you’ll find it a bit flat. When you also discover that your seat is on the very back row of the very highest circle, and you can’t quite see the front of the stage where the majority of the action is set, that doesn’t help much either.
Despite these setbacks, though, the play, starring David Suchet and Zoe Wanamaker (proving they really can act and aren’t just one-trick ponies) was indeed excellent.
I can’t tell you much of the story without giving too much away, but the plot revolves around the choices we make and the consequences of those choices. No decision is made in a vacuum, and even if you try to wash your hands of the responsibility, it has a way of circling back around to find you.
The programme notes that ‘some saw the play as a criticism of capitalism’, and indeed it would be hard not to see it as that – the choice involves a decision between whether to do the right, but financially costly thing, or to conceal the truth and save the company.
The lead character, played by the brilliant David Suchet (not a hint of Poirot!), makes the decision he does on the grounds that it will be best for his family, but it is revealed that the consequences for his family have in fact been devastating.
One of the strengths of the plot, however, is that it was not a split-second decision which then spirals out of control, but one big decision, followed by a series of smaller decisions and indecisions, actions and inactions, which add to the mess. We can all be victims of a momentary lapse of judgement, but it’s how we deal with the consequences that really shapes and shows who we are.
If you can get a ticket, go and see it. You’ll love it.
If you can’t get a ticket, there’s a film version out there somewhere. I hear it’s not as good, but at least you’ll understand all my cryptic references a little better!