Reviewed by Trish Francis
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is an emotional workout that makes for a gripping evening of drama. Willy Loman is a tormented figure, past his prime and struggling with the reality of his life having failed to reach the dizzy heights of the American Dream. A visit from his estranged sons triggers a psychotic episode and the resulting mental anguish sees him lapsing into the past and talking to himself, providing insight into the complex trail of events that have led to his downfall.
Director Sue Wylie has coached a superb version of this wonderful play, which can stand proudly alongside Therry’s long list of award winning dramas. The play starts slowly as we begin to peel off the layers of the characters revealing what drives them. After interval the pace picks up and the action is completely mesmarising as Loman’s path to self-destruction gains the momentum of a runaway train.
David Grybowski as Willy is simply outstanding, perfectly portraying the fluctuating moods and growing depression as he struggles to hold his life together. The agony of his situation was palpable. Cate Rogers as Willy’s wife Linda, is a little youthful to be a solid matriarch, but she plays a convincing supportive wife and successfully captures the vulnerability and increasing desperation of a woman trying to pull together the fraying strands of her family.
The sons, Adam Touminen as the ill at ease Biff and Mark Healy as the philandering Happy are also well cast. Tuominen is especially effective as Biff’s discomfort grows and he resists being pushed into a life he doesn’t want. His bubbling resentment of Willy comes to an excruciating climax in a confrontation between father and son.
There are no weak links in the supporting roles either. Of the many convincing performances Thorin Cupit as Howard and Stanley was the most captivating.
A compelling production in which we can all recognise a little of our own complicated relationships and the disparity between expectations and reality. A must see.