Lloyd Marken is a freelance writer with a passion for the arts who has been published with Scenestr, Heavy, Buzz, X-Press, FilmInk and Weekend Notes. Visit my blog at https://backtothedrawingboardproductions.com/
Classic 'Death of a Salesman' still resonates today
Peter Kowitz as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, courtesy of Queensland Theatre website.
In the middle of the night, the old man talks to the walls and strides around his house seizing upon new plans and conflating them with old memories to give him hope. Yet the new day dawns and with it…the reality of his situation. The story of salesman Willy Loman is timeless, if anything, in a world where a digital mirror plays out to an audience every set goal, self-improvement and marker of affluence Loman's yearning to be his best self despite having reached the end of his run is even more cautionary and haunting than it was in 1949.
Queensland Theatre brings Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning classic Death of a Salesman to the QPAC Playhouse from the 9th of February to the 2nd of March kicking off their 2019 season of dreamers. Willy Loman is a salesman who has been selling the wrong values all his life, mostly to himself, but he has also infected his family with hopeless dreams and bewildering disappointment. Heavy stuff, and we haven't even got to the other themes of fathers and sons, the dark side of capitalism, ageing and mental health issues. It can be depressing but it's powerful all the same and given how well the text still resonates this is a show that should move many.
Director Jason Klarwein has cast well, and the construction of the Loman's house with the exterior walls giving way to show the inside evokes well the sense of the space that the Loman family have built a life around. Those who have seen the show previously may recognise how certain scenes play out with the same use of sound and lighting at certain points, yet why mess with perfection? It could be argued that no matter how many times you've seen the play you can't beat the opportunity to enjoy it with the raw power of live performance. All the cast take on New York accents and project their voices in a classic manner keeping with so many of the characters' man on the make aspirations. In particular, Peter Kowitz as the tragic Loman, Charles Allen as the kind-hearted Charley and Angie Milliken as Linda Loman fare particularly well but the cast are all uniformly strong. Opening night there were some missed cues but all brushed past very easily. Willy's wife, Linda, has hidden depths of strength and questionable enabling and Milliken does a great job of conveying this.
Death of a Salesman won't be for everyone but those who enjoy it will see it for the powerful story it is, the endless amount of things you can take away from it and the performances it inspires from its actors.