Marshall Napier is currently playing Joe Keller in Arthur Miller’s play All My Sons at the Eternity Playhouse in Darlinghurst. I spoke to him in between performances. Ten years ago he performed in the Arthur Miller play A View from the Bridge, and was keen to once again explore the powerful characters that typify the world of Miller.
Set in 1947 in mid-west America, All My Sons tells the story of an all American family torn apart by a shameful secret. Joe Keller is a proud family man, successful business owner and local hero. But when he places his family’s prosperity above the lives of others, there are devastating consequences for all.
Napier says this production is a straight retelling of Miller’s play; the time and place are all explored as Miller intended them to be. The setting is firmly placed in mid-western America in the 1940s with costumes and accents that reflect this. The first half is upbeat as the rehabilitated Joe shows his familial side, but inevitably a darker side shows itself in true Miller style as the play reaches its conclusion.
With a quick rehearsal time of three weeks Napier admits that he watched both previous films (1948 and 1987). He laughs off any suggestion of a ‘phobia’ watching others play his role. Watching the films informed his character, but he says he has brought his own mark on Joe Keller.
As well as being an actor well known for his work in film and TV, Napier has also written a number of plays. He wrote, directed and acted in his own play Freak Winds in both Sydney and New York. Today Napier is delighted to have just received information on the Canadian production of his play. His writing career began later than most and emerged as a result of his own frustration with the material he was being given at the time.
He is a man of varied talent, but says everything he does is related. Although his creative talent has burgeoned into many different areas he prefers to concentrate on one project at a time. For now his pen has been rested whilst he is performing in All My Sons. It is the debut production at the new Eternity Playhouse, a converted church, which is set to become an iconic theatre destination. With its stunning architecture and brand new state-of-the-art facilities, Napier says it is the perfect venue for one of Miller’s most celebrated plays and he is delighted to be performing back in his adopted home of Sydney.
All My Sons is currently playing at the Eternity Playhouse, Darlinghurst until December 1.
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