Brian Linds and Jan Wood star as Joe and Kate Keller in Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre’s production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. Married in life they play a married couple living with a big secret.
What is the play really about?
Brian: It’s a slice of life in the back yard. It’s neighbours talking over fences and revealing their stories over the course of a single day.
It’s also about hidden secrets. It’s about what the neighbourhood might or might not know. Secrets are exposed and then blame must be placed. But who is guilty, who is answerable to the accusations?
What is it like to play a married couple, as a married couple?
Jan: It gives us a kind of shorthand. We have a history, they have a history. We have children, they have children. There is love between us both as characters and as people. There is a willingness to play as actors because there is trust as a couple. If Brian gives me a look or teases me I know what he is doing and we can run with that.
Brian: The play has written the characters as a couple really well. The arguments and the joy are really authentic. It allows us to draw on our real experiences to bring the characters to life and bring their history to life.
Jan: The familiarity we bring as a couple is there in the writing so it works really well.
Will the audience identify with the characters?
Brian: Joe isn’t a bad guy. Everything he does is for his family. The war was going crazy and he made a decision in the heat of the moment that had unfortunate results. He never imagined that there could be such extreme consequences
Jan: Joe is pursuing the American Dream and in the course of that pursuit he told a small lie, the consequences of which he did not anticipate.
Brian: Joe is sympathetic. He cares for his family, especially his son. He is under a lot of stress and he struggles with the situation. You empathize with his struggle. He is a businessman with a big heart and a deep love of family. Part of the tension in the play is the struggle between the two sides of the story – the Joe who lied to build his business and the Joe who is working hard to support his family.
How is it relevant to the modern audience?
Brian: In a way it’s a timeless story. It’s about family. It’s about sons. One son doesn’t want to follow his Dad’s path. He’s in love and that presents a challenge to his family. I think younger audiences will identify with that son’s struggle to find his own way.
Jan: It’s about the dilemma of balancing social responsibility and the demands of war. It’s especially relevant given the international climate today. Who a decision benefits and why are questions that will always be relevant to ask.
What was a surprise for you when you started working on the play?
Brian: I had a lot of lines to highlight in my script! I was surprised by the intensity of the highs and lows of Joe’s journey through the play. The secrets and covering up of his guilt, fear, and his terror.
I play a lot of comedy. The depth of this script challenged me as an actor.
Jan: The enormity of the emotions and complexity of Kate’s character. Three years before the play begins, she has become unhinged since hearing one of her sons missing in action. For the others, dealing with Kate is a bit like walking through a minefield. She suffers from depression and anxiety but must maintain her strength. She takes over the family after Joe is charged and figures out how to deal with each challenge.
Is this an anti war play?
Brian: Yes I think it is. War is business. Joe’s mistake was trying to keep up with the business. In one of the monologues Joe says “war changes the tallies. I had two sons, now I have one”. There are losses and there are gains and it’s impossible to tell who will be on what side of the tally.
Jan: I agree. You work and plan in a certain direction but war changes everything.
What will leave the strongest impression on the audience?
Jan: When Joe realizes the enormity of what he has done the audience will connect with that. I hope it provokes discussion.