The brilliant yet tragic story of Willy Loman
IN truth, I had never seen or read anything by Arthur Miller before, but after watching The Death Of A Salesman – the spectacular Royal Exchange Theatre production following the brilliant yet tragic story of Willy Loman directed by Sarah Frankcom, with Don Warrington – I can see what I’ve been missing.
The play begins with the main protagonist, Willy Loman, returning from a business trip to find his two sons, Biff and Happy staying at his home.
Biff has unexpectedly returned from the West and it is clear from the start that Biff and Willy have a strained relationship; there is love there, deep down, but also bitterness and resentment.
Willy has been working as a salesman on the road for 36 years, striving for success and achieving the ‘American Dream’, but has become blind to reality.
He has become obsolete in this new world which he can’t keep up with and that has no need for him any more – struggling to accept this, he hides behind illusions, pretending he is thriving in business to save his reputation.
Themes of reality and illusion, lies and abuse, success and failure and hope and cynicism all weave their way throughout the plot, displaying how we must accept change in order to survive – exactly what Willy refuses to do.
What elevated the play even more, besides from the incredibly insightful plot, was the use of sound effects and lighting in and in between the scenes and the seamless changes between past and present to highlight Willy’s emotions and mental decline.
Don Warrington’s portrayal of Willy is exceptional; he perfectly cap- tures the essence of Willy and depicts all his different layers; from being lost and alone, to angry and bitter, to stubborn but hard-working.
In the end, it is difficult to determine whether Willy is a good or bad man, or whether to feel sorry for him or be angry with his stubbornness.
One thing is for sure though, I found this play to be remarkably thoughtprovoking and perceptive.
I now see why Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play, Death Of A Salesman is considered one of the greatest plays of the 20th Century.
Don Warrington as Willy Loman in The Death Of A Salesman