Roger Covell’s Theatre Talk
The Barbara Sisley Memorial Play - All My Sons by Arthur Miller
One night in August, 1925, 12 actors stood on the stage of the Theatre Royal, Brisbane, and acknowledged the applause of a large and indulgent audience.
It was the first night of the first production of the newly-formed Brisbane Repertory Society (175 members all told). As the applause continued, one of the cast introduced the producer, a time-honoured theatrical custom. Miss Barbara Sisley, tall and slender, half stooped and half bowed in acknowledgement in a way that was to become familiar to thousands of Brisbane playgoers.
From that night until her death in 1945, Barbara Sisley was ‘Repertory’ to the public. But her own pioneering of amateur theatre in Brisbane went back even further than 1925. An ex-professional herself, she had organised the Barbara Sisley Players before the end of World War I. The annual memorial to her, formerly a lecture, is this year to be a play, Arthur Miller's powerful All My Sons will be quite a contrast to A. A. Milne's The Dover Road of 1925 memory. It will be given in the Albert Hall on September 29 and 30, and October 1 and 2.
One of the people who will give appreciative footlight talks about Barbara Sisley will be Clare Clarke, who was a member of that first cast in the Theatre Royal. Incidentally, attention to detail was sometimes more strict in 1925 than it is now. A full three-course dinner for The Dover Road was kept constantly hot on a gas stove at the rear of the stage.
The Courier Mail, 19 September 1954
All My Sons Review by Roger Covell
Brisbane Repertory Theatre made one of the best theatrical evenings of the year out of their production of "All My Sons" in the Albert Hall last night.
Arthur Miller's powerful and intelligent drama of guilt and compromise was given a generally good performance, and some well-judged direction by Irene Alexander. For my part, the performance of Arthur Hall as a young American trying to maintain in suburban America the idealism born in battle was worth going to see for itself. His playing was sensible, flexible and relaxed. He established himself at once as the best young male actor to appear in Brisbane for some time. Franklyn Evans was strong in humour but slightly deficient in tragedy as the industrialist who knowingly made defective aeroplane parts during the war and allowed his partner to take all the blame.
Gloria Birdwood-Smith was not happy with the American accent, but, as usual, brought off the climaxes of her emotional vigil for a lost son in fullblooded style. Blair Hefferan was effective as the daughter of the wronged man, and gave promise of something more. This was a production worthy of being chosen as this year's Barbara Sisley Memorial Play.
Courier-Mail, 30 September 1954