Death of a Salesman
GREG Doran is in no doubt Death of a Salesman is the greatest American play of the 20th century.
The RSC mark the centenary of Arthur Miller’s birth with an engrossing production of the shattering of a dream – the American dream.
Antony Sher steps into the salesman’s shoes of the doomed Willy Loman. His high hopes of a happy retirement gradually disintegrate before him as the carpet of his long held belief that honest hard work will be rewarded is pulled from under him. Sher’s shoulders slump as the realisation of the real world bears down on Willy, and the New York drawl becomes increasingly cracked as he heads towards his inglorious end.
Desperately trying to keep everything together is Harriet Walter, Willy’s long suffering wife Linda, while holding firm to the dream of materialism. Walter’s touching portrayal is superbly balanced.
Her stage sons are no less impressive. Alex Hassell’s powerful rough and ready Biff rides a rollercoaster of emotions as he faces up to who he is, while Sam Marks’ Happy – as the embodiment of his father in his youth – makes a fine foil for Biff.
Stephen Brimson Lewis’ excellent set design – the family’s small apartment closed in by further apartment blocks – coupled with a Tim Mitchell’s imaginative lighting – provides atmosphere and a certain claustrophobia from which both Will and Biff long to escape from. Add to these Paul Englishby’s melancholic jazz score and the Big Apple circa 1950s is smartly brought alive on the RST stage.
Death of a Salesman runs until May 2. Visit www.rsc.org for tickets and further details.