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'All My Sons' Sets Off Emotional Fireworks

February 07, 1996|DON SHIRLEY and * "All My Sons," Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. except Feb. 11 and 25, 2 p.m. $17.50-$21.50. (310) 477-2055. Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes.

WEST LOS ANGELES — Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" is a powerhouse in Elina deSantos' staging at the Odyssey Theatre.

This post-World War II tale of a small-town manufacturer who had been accused of a home-front scandal has been criticized for its melodramatics involving a long-concealed letter. But at the Odyssey, such objections wither away in the face of the play's searing emotional power and its examination of human beings' responsibilities to each other.

This happens despite a central performance by Richard Fancy that wasn't completely nailed on opening night. Fancy gives Joe Keller a genial, semi-simian quality. But a few of his quieter passages are too muffled--including the critical line that contributed the play's title. And this Joe's idiosyncratic laugh is a bit over the top.

The other key roles couldn't be better played. Judith Scarpone is an indelible presence as Kate Keller, the mother who's mourning one son and afraid of the other. The surviving son is played by James Parks, whose relatively lithe frame makes a dramatic contrast with the burlier Fancy. The father-son fireworks crackle.

Cynthia Lynch plays the formidable young woman whose arrival sets off the inexorable chain of events, and Josiah Polhemus portrays her hotheaded brother, who begins to melt under the skilled ministrations of Scarpone's Kate. Roslyn Moore dressed everyone to '40s perfection, and Kurt Wahlner's house frame and backyard are beautifully lit by Doc Ballard. A key sound effect fizzled on opening night; presumably it has been fixed.

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