Theatre: Death of a Salesman

Caught the 1999 Broadway production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman last night. Its been playing at the West End for a few months now and it was well worth going to see it. I had read the play at school, seen a film version of it, and perservered through an amateur production of it, but seeing this was something else.

Brian Dennehy from the Broadway production was starring as Willy Loman (he also featured in such classic movies of the 1980s as Cocoon and Legal Eagles) but just as fantastic were the rest of the cast - especially Clare Higgins as the wife. Watching this play on stage you realise what an emotional wallop this gives you. It gradually builds and builds setting the scene in the first act, hinting at hope and an optimistic future along the way but by half way through the second act you can see Willy Loman's life unraveling into a horrible mess, and you watch him go all the way downhill.

There were other little touches in this production that made it such an eye opener. The production kept things brisk as well with a revolving stage and set that helped underscore the madness and weariness of Loman. Characters in his mind and in reality walk on and move off as they appear in his head. Dennehy throughout the play wears the same suit... It seems slightly ill-fitting and creased so Loman looks tired, worn out and obsolete. The office where Loman is fired is small and claustrophobic... They all added to this production...

Leaving the theatre you couldn't exactly say it was something to enjoy but it was something to admire. More than fifty years on the story of making it or not still rings true... Attention surely was paid by the theatre goers last night...

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