Powerful performances pack a punch in ‘Death of a Salesman’ at The Old Globe

By Diana Saenger

REVIEW

Anyone aware of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” knows it’s an intense experience at the theatre. But many times, the reaction is all in the eye of the beholder. For me, the Globe’s current production is profound and gripping.

Performed in the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre and directed by Pam MacKinnon, there isn’t one moment in this Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play that doesn’t ring true and that’s because each member of the cast does an incredible job.

The weary salesman and troubled father, Willy Loman, is brought to life in a tour-de-force performance by Jeffrey DeMunn (“The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Walking Dead”).

Willy Loman (Jeffrey DeMunn) has a brusque conversation with his sons Hap (Tyler Pierce) and Biff (Lucas Caleb Rooney) in ‘Death of a Salesman’ at the Old Globe through Feb. 27. Photo: Henry DiRocco.

DeMunn is Willy from the time he opens the door and drops his suitcase on the floor to when he adamantly demands that his son Biff (Lucas Caleb Rooney, Broadway’s “The Country Girl”) leave the house.

“Salesman” unfolds through flashbacks into the different stages of the Loman’s lives. It’s during one of those scenes we learn that Biff was a football star with a promising college future until something happened between him and his father that turned Biff into a lazy man and huge disapointment to Willy.

Rooney brings a full range of emotions to his character, but really shines in the terse scenes between Biff and his dad, and his brother Hap (Tyler Pierce, “A Street Car Named Desire”) when he ignores the signs of their father’s instability.

As they argue and fight, Linda (Robin Moseley, Broadway’s “Pygmalion”) desperately tries to keep her son and husband from sparring, often eliciting Hap to interceed. But Hap is more concerned with who his next date is — Pierce’s eyes light up every time Hap even thinks about a night of fun.

Willy’s sad life is especially touching when you consider that even though the play was first produced in 1949, the story is particularly relevant today. Many will relate to Willy’s desperation from a life spiraling out of control.

DeMunn performed Willy in “Salesman” last year in Dallas, but said he welcomed the chance to get to know his character deeper. When he portrays Willy with an anxiety-ridden voice, angry gesture or plea of forgiveness from Linda, it’s as if he’s walked in Willy’s shoes all of his life.

If you go

What: “Death of a Salesman”

Where: Sheryl and Harvey White Theater, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park

When: 7 p.m. Tuesdays-Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays; 7 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 27

Tickets: $29-$67

Contact: (619) 23-GLOBE.  TheOldGlobe.org

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Posted by Susan DeMaggio on Feb 1, 2011. Filed under A & E, Theater. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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