Intrepid Shakespeare Company has launched its fifth season in impressive fashion, staging a faultless production of Arthur Miller's fiercely intense family drama All My Sons. This is Intrepid's third go-round with Miller, an expressed favorite of artistic director Christy Yael-Cox. Previously, the Encinitas-based company staged The Crucible and Miller's adaptation of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People. With All My Sons, Yael-Cox and a formidable cast evince all of Miller's precise language and cogent reflection on not only the inexorable binds of family but also the price of culpability, war and the so-called American Dream as it was post-World War II.
The sons of All My Sons are not merely Joe and Kate Keller's Chris (Brian Mackey) and missing-in-action-and-presumed-dead Larry. They are the boys who fought the brave fight overseas—in particular 21 American pilots who died because of defective parts in their airplanes. Joe (Tom Stephenson, quietly imploding) and his partner, Steve Deever, had shipped the defective parts and were subsequently jailed. Joe was exonerated and freed while Steve remained behind bars. At home, Kate (an exceptionally moving Savvy Scopelleti) clings to the belief that son Larry is still alive, while Chris shyly, but with resolve, woos lovely Ann Deever (Jacque Wilke), who happens to be not only incarcerated Steve Deever's estranged daughter but also Larry's former sweetheart.
In playwright Miller's own words, "Betrayal is the only truth that sticks," but All My Sons is, thematically, not that simple. At stake in the seemingly peaceful backyard behind the Kellers' quaint Midwest home is the very nature of faith: in oneself, in the ones you love, in what dreams may come and those that will wither away. With its pervading tension and emotionally horrifying twists, All My Sons is tough medicine to swallow for its tormented families, and not so easy on an audience, either. But Yael-Cox's fluid direction and performances with the power of Scopeletti's, Stephenson's, Mackey's and Wilke's demonstrate how gripping a tragic story can be told.
The American Dream was, and is, elusive and fraught with good intentions gone astray.
All My Sons runs through April 19 at the San Dieguito Academy Performing Arts Centre in Encinitas. $25-$35. intrepidshakespeare.com
Miss Gulch Returns: A one-man musical in which a man takes on the personality of Miss Gulch, the uptight enemy of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, who, in this reality, is an actor who played herself in the classic film. Presented by Diversionary Theatre, it runs April 2 through 6 at Martinis Above Fourth in Hillcrest. diversionary.org
To Kill a Mockingbird: The classic drama with the best character names in the history of film or theater: Atticus, Scout, Gem, Dill and Boo. Opens in previews on April 4 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.com
And the World Goes 'Round: A staged revue of the music of composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, who gave us the songs from Cabaret, New York, New York and Chicago. Presented by Moonlight Stage Productions, it runs through April 6 at Avo Playhouse in Vista. moonlightstage.com
Cats: Which feline in the Jellicle tribe will be chosen to reborn into a new life in the Heaviside Layer? Presented by San Diego Musical Theatre, it runs through April 6 at the Birch North Park Theater. sdmt.org
The Gin Game: Two nursing-home residents engage in psychological warfare as they battle in games of gin rummy. Through April 6 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. onstageplayhouse.org
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change: A musical series of vignettes about love and relationships. Through April 6 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido. patioplayhouse.com
Becky's New Car: A woman who works for a car dealership is bored in her marriage and begins living a double life after she meets a wealthy widower. Through April 13 at PowPAC in Poway. Powpac.org
The Foreigner: A comedy about a sad Brit, a guest at a Georgia fishing lodge, who pretends to speak no English so he doesn't have to talk to anyone and ends up having to save the lodge from the Ku Klux Klan. Through April 13 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. lambsplayers.org
All My Sons: Arthur Miller's award-winning drama, set in 1946, is about the lengths to which a successful businessman has gone in order to provide a secure financial future for his two sons. Presented by Intrepid Shakespeare Company, it runs through April 19 at San Dieguito Academy Performing Arts Centre in Encinitas. intrepidshakespeare.com
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: In this Stephen Sondheim musical farce, a slave in ancient Rome schemes to win his freedom by delivering the object of his young master's affection, but, of course, everything goes haywire. Presented by Broadway Vista, it runs through April 20 at Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido. broadwayvista.com
The Liar: An adaptation by David Ives of a 17th-century play about a man who tells multiple fibs as he courts one of two sisters, mistakenly believing she's the other sibling. Through April 27 at Scripps Ranch Theatre. scrippsranchtheatre.org
Quilters: A musical about the lives of pioneer women in the American Old West. Through April 27 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
Red: A successful abstract-expressionist painter must create a piece for the Four Seasons restaurant but is dogged by persistent challenges from his opinionated assistant. Presented by San Diego Repertory Theatre, it runs through April 27 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. sdrep.org
Spring Awakening: That awakening is a sexual one, experienced by young adults in a small German town, set to music by Duncan Sheik. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it opens runs through April 27 at The Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Time and the Conways: This philosophical drama follows a British family from hope in 1919 to desperation in 1937 and then returns to 1919 to show how things started to go wrong. Through May 4 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org
Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net