JOE KELLER: 62. Charismatic and charming patriarch and raconteur, uneducated but clever, wealthy but common, with the instincts of both a great leader and a great coward. Joe's best quality is that he really understands people and knows how to connect. He is desperate to keep his secrets from being revealed, and covers them with unexpected and horrible grace in deception. He is ultimately haunted by them - but probably not as haunted as he should be. He is not a bad man, but he has done bad things, and he's in over his head and the water is rising. One of the great roles in American theatre.
KATE KELLER: Mid-50s. Joe's wife. Funny, loving and lovable, kind, probably much brighter than her husband and almost certainly tougher. No shrinking violet housewife, Kate has an agenda and she has an edge. She is the real backbone in this family, and will go to the wall to protect Joe from his mistakes. That same backbone is her weakness, as it prevents her from accepting the likely death of her son Larry, whom she waits for with a patience and clear-eyed certainty that borders on madness. A zealot for love. Like Joe, one of the greatest roles in the American theatre, and a pantheon role for women.
DR. JIM BAYLISS: Mid-30s to mid-40s. Handsome, masculine, strong, silent type. The Kellers' neighbor, living in Ann and George's childhood home. In possession of a singularly dry wit. He utilizes this wit in occasionally combative banter with his wife, Sue, whom he fantasizes about leaving, but he'll never go through with it. He is a doctor, reluctantly realistic almost to the point of fatalism, who embodies the notion that a cynic is just a disappointed idealist. And he is very disappointed indeed.
SUE BAYLISS: Mid-30s to mid-40s. Housewife and social assassin. Matches her husband's considerable intelligence and wit blow-for-blow. Exceptionally good at seeing beneath people's masks, which would be useful if she was a particularly empathetic person, which she is decidedly not. Embittered and insecure, possesses a kind of merciless practicality. She hasn't much pity for anyone, and her saving grace is that includes herself.
FRANK LUBEY: Late-20s to early-30s. A little on the enthusiastically nerdy side, the Kellers' neighbor on the other side. The kind of guy who knows a little bit about everything, but never quite enough to find himself becoming actually useful. His current fascination is astrology, and he's using this hobby to try to prove that Larry is still alive, much to the chagrin of everyone but Kate, who thinks he's a genius. A happy wanderer with a beautiful wife and wonderful children, he escaped the draft by the skin of his teeth. This stroke of luck creates a wide gulf between him and some of the other men in the play, especially Chris and Jim.
LYDIA LUBEY: Late-20s to early-30s. Housewife and mother to several small children, Lydia just glows. She is luminous and happy - to the point that her nickname is Laughy - and she's good at making others feel the same way. She dated George before the war, was expected to marry him even, and something happened during the war that led her to marry Frank instead. She is still in love with George, but would never act on those feelings. There is a sense in that relationship of chemistry, affection, and deep loss.
BERT: 8-10 years old. Very impressed with Joe's jailhouse history, comes around a lot to ask him about it. Thinks Joe is a cop.
SHOW DATES: October 14 - November 13
During the war Joe Keller and Steve Deever ran a machine shop which made airplane parts. Deever was sent to prison because the firm turned out defective parts, causing the deaths of many men. Keller went free and made a lot of money. The twin shadows of this catastrophe and the fact that the young Keller son was reported missing during the war dominate the action. The love affair of Chris Keller and Ann Deever, the bitterness of George Deever returned from the war to find his father in prison and his father's partner free, are all set in a structure of almost unbearable power. The climax showing the reaction of a son to his guilty father is fitting conclusion to a play electrifying in its intensity.