In 1947, when it was new, Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" won most of the awards available on Broadway -- the Tony, the Donaldson and the Drama Critics' Circle. Thirty-three years later, looking at the Touchstone Theatre's current production through the perspective of Miller's career, this play stands in the shadow of "Death of a Salesman," for which it was in some ways a preliminary exercise. Still, "All My Sons" remains potentially what Brooks Atkinson called it when it was new: "an honest, forceful drama" showing "unusual understanding of the tangled loyalties of human beings."
Its basic plot line, centering on war profiteering in World War II, makes it rather a period piece -- not quite classic, though perhaps vintage. But the passions with which it deals -- family loyalty, greed, self-deception, cowardice and remorse -- are timeless, and it builds them into a structure like that of a classic tragedy. Those who have more than a passing interest in Miller's work should know "All My Sons."
Touchstone, a new company located on N. Fairfax Street in Arlington near the Ballston Metro station, is offering an appropriately honest, forceful performance of "All My Sons" Thursday, Dec. 18, through Sunday, Dec. 2l. pIt is the first in what the company hopes will be eight productions each year, and if it is a far sample of what is to come, Touchstone deserves encouragement. It lacks some of the glitter to be found in big-name productions available downtown; the acting is not always of superstar quality, the timing and gestures not as exquisitely precise as they might be.
But for a small company selling tickets at $5, it is a commendable production. Some of the performances are outstanding -- notably Don Williams in the central role and Frank Lubey and Leonard Martinoli in supporting parts -- and the set by Douglas Allchin is excellent.