I was invited to attend the Opening Night of Queensland Theatre's 2019 Season of Dreamers. Although the preview performances commenced on the 9th of February, the opening night landed on the most loved up day of the year, Thursday the 14th of February.
Naturally, you would expect everything offered on this day to be rose-coloured tipsy with hypnotic hearts. I have come to respect Queensland Theatre's preference to shock and awe their patrons. Instead of falling in line they chose to pay tribute to a classic every bit as dark and gut-wrenching, as it is timeless. Queensland Theatre presents Death of a Salesman. On its 70th anniversary, Arthur Miller's melancholy multi award-winning classic opened to a huge standing O.
Willy Lowman (Peter Kowitz) is a worn out travelling salesman clinging with his shredded sanity to the American dream. Exhausted, he struggles through the realisation that despite his best efforts he never really made it. Behind on his mortgage, not earning enough to make ends meet, Willy borrows money, hiding the fact from his long-suffering wife, Linda (Angie Milliken). He further unravels when his two aimless sons, Biff (Thomas Larkin) and Happy (Jackson McGovern), return home. Their presence only aggravates the deep disappointment of his broken down life.
Death of a Salesman is a gritty family drama addressing the misconception that accolades and material things are the measures of success. He failed to see that under the roof he provided, he had a loyal, loving family. No further admiration or amount of material possessions was required to reach the ultimate dream.
Arthur Miller set to tell the human tragedy of Ego vs. Reality. He created a masterpiece that has resonated with audiences since it first opened on Broadway in 1949. To this he is due, and so attention must be paid.
Queensland Theatre faithfully resurrected 'Death of a Salesman' connecting the audience into the remaining shards of Willy's mind. They achieved this through moving character performances, lighting, stage and brilliant direction by Jason Klarwein (My Name is Jimi, Much Ado About Nothing).
Death of a Salesman Set. Image: Kath Rose & Associates
The set is a giant dollhouse with moving parts. I believe the lighting possessed the ghosts of the Lowman family past and present. The cast, not a weak link amongst their American accents. Peter Kowitz (Packed to the Rafters, McLeod's Daughters, All Saints) in the lead role and Angie Milliken (MDA) as Linda Loman bled every line. Thomas Larkin (The Wider Earth, Macbeth), shined as Biff Loman. Jason McGovern (The Owl and the Pussycat, Rent –The Musical), nailed his dual role of Happy Lowen and Howard, Willy's obnoxious young boss. Charles Allen (True West, Hoges: The Paul Hogan Story), Llai Swindells (SLiDE, Harrow), and Kevin Hides (Composing Venus, A Conversation), all giving strong performances.
Death of a Salesman is playing now at The Playhouse, QPAC, South Brisbane until the 2nd of March. Tickets on sale now!
Jason Klarwein - Director Richard Roberts - Set Designer
Anthony Spinaze - Associate Designer/Costume Designer Verity Hampson - Lighting Designer Justin Harrison - Composer/Sound Designer
Peter Kowitz - Willy Loman
Angie Milliken - Linda Loman
Thomas Larkin - Biff Loman
Jackson McGovern - Happy Loman/Howard
Sarah Ogden - The Woman/Miss Forsythe
Charles Allen - Charley
Kevin Hides - Uncle Ben
Ilai Swindells - Bernard
Gemma Willing - Jenny/Letta