Ah, days of my youth! All My Sons by Arthur Miller was one of my set texts at A Level, and looking round at the audience I'm not the only 40something re-living their schooldays, a sight that serves to remind me I'm not actually as young as my inner self often assumes!
This production has been brought to the Royal Exchange by Talwa Theatre Company, whose last offering here was the wonderful Raisin in the Sun in 2010. Talwa was established to create artistic opportunities for actors from minority ethnic backgrounds and here it brings together an all black cast to bring to life this iconic play and more than demonstrates that casting decisions can and should be a little more broad as there is some amazing talent on display here that tells the story well.
If you read an Arthur Miller play you will find that the stage directions are very detailed, it is almost like reading a novel. I suppose this means that there are very few choices available in the interpretation of a piece when bringing it to the stage. This play is also very much set in a specific time and place in America. Because of that, and the fact that I know this play so well, it is hard not to judge it against other versions I have seen rather than just taking it at face value.
The performances and staging are undoubtedly great, and if it was my first experience of the play I am sure I would have had a different response. It has been getting very good reviews from the critics. But whilst the central story loses none of its impact, this production left me feeling strangely unmoved, not what I was expecting at all.