Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller

The iconic play assessing the impact of the American Dream opens its tour at the Theatre Royal this week. Much publicity has surrounded this production and although it was a delayed press night and there is a little way to go it is clearly going to be an excellent show which will no doubt delight audiences across the country.

Written in 1949 by Arthur Miller this piece is widely considered to be one of the greatest plays of the 20th Century. The central character Willie Loman, an insecure, unstable man who reimagines his past as if reality; leading to furious arguments with his sons, friends and family. The frustration he has for his sons and their lack of ambition compounds the quest for the American Dream, what does it mean to be successful and what is the quest for ambition actually worth.

Nicholas Woodeson as Willy finds a searing vulnerability in the midst of his raging anger and mental instability. His diminutive frame exhausted from a life on the road; his continual rebuilding of his past memories bringing chaos to those around him; where the truth is never actually known and never confronted.

George Taylor as Biff, the son broken by his father’s secret brings a sadness that cannot be quantified. The need to tell the truth, defy expectations and escape the oppression with the simplicity of a ranch. He struggles hard to be heard but fails, his pain evident at all stages.

Geff Francis (Charley) and Michael Walters (Bernard) bring a great presence to proceedings as loyal, honest and good men whose support for the Loman’s never waivers.

The flashbacks are well captured and Biff’s despair at knowing the family lived a lie never far from the surface. However, the impossibility of honesty at such a late stage is heartbreaking.

As the play moves on no doubt the pace will even out and settle into an valuable retelling under the Direction of Abigail Graham.

Petra Schofield