Arthur Miller's post-World War II drama offers a still-resonant morality tale about our responsibility to humanity at large and the limits of familial loyalty. The white-picket-fence façade of capitalistic America comes tumbling down in Miller's shattering amalgam of Greek tragedy and an Ibsen-inspired message play. The Actors Co-op has fashioned a generally solid revival of this deeply moving 1947 classic. The production's virtues are led by David Schall's luminous portrayal of the morally conflicted patriarch, Joe Keller, an airplane-parts machinist whose grievous misjudgment of years past resulted in disaster and comes back to haunt him. Schall's superbly layered performance combines surface cheer with inner turmoil, anchoring the gripping drama. He's perfectly complemented by Bonnie Bailey-Reed's heartrending characterization as Kate, his over-solicitous and self-deluded wife, desperately trying to sweep the family's Pandora's box of festering problems under the rug.
Exemplary work also comes from John Allsopp as the surviving son, Chris, seeking to eke out a happy existence despite the underlying tensions dominating the family's suburban domicile. His engagement to Ann (Michelle Allsopp), the former fiancée of his missing sibling, is adamantly opposed by Kate for more than one reason. The Allsopps (real-life spouses) achieve a compelling interplay as lovers trying to preserve their bond amid the ominous skeletons bursting out of their families' closets. John Allsopp is particularly effective in his climactic scenes with Schall, as the actors eloquently capture the heartbreak inherent in Miller's family tragedy. The only major character not well served is Ann's brother, George, who's convinced that their dad (Joe's convicted and imprisoned partner) was railroaded. Durrell Nelson stomps in with a scowl on his face and never shows much range. More subtlety and a sense of pain to temper the hostility would validate his interpretation.
The supporting work is uneven. A handful of characters is included to represent the universe outside of the two tortured families—the figurative "all my sons" for which Joe bears some responsibility. Young Cody Fleetwood is capable as the precocious neighbor child, and John Gibson Miller adds welcome moments of levity as the neighbor Frank, going off on an astrological tangent. Staci Armao does what she can to bring the simple role of Frank's wife, Lydia, to life. More effective are Tim Woodward as the neighboring doctor and Marianne Savell as his strident wife, opposite sides of the coin; he quietly observes the brewing scandal next door while she opts for open confrontation.
Director Kevin R. Kelley demonstrates a good grasp of the play's themes, though his pacing is sometimes rushed. There's a lot of story to tell, and subtle nuances would come through clearer with a more modulated approach. Sydney Z. Litwak's authentic backyard set and Kathi O'Donohue's crisp lighting enhance the mood.
"All My Sons," presented by Actors Co-op at the Crossley Theatre, 1760 N. Gower St., Hollywood. Thurs.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2:30 p.m. Apr. 12-June 2. $14-18. (323) 462-8460.