Death of A Salesman At Piccadilly Theatre
Death of A Salesman is one of those plays that I feel that I really ought to have seen by now, especially when the rave reviews came out from this productions earlier iteration at the Old Vic.
Death of A Salesman focuses on the Loman family, Willy and Linda Loman and their 2 sons, Biff and Happy. Whist Willy and Linda are just about scraping by, the decline in Willy’s mental health and the return home by their son’s provides the catalyst needed for Willy’s further unravelling.
Whilst the show makes several observations of a mind in crisis it also explores something that this play doesn’t normally reach and that is race. Within directors Marianne Elliott and Miranda Cromwell’s production the Loman family are played by black actors. This makes some of the lines really resonate and gives some of them additional depth when previously they may have been off the cuff remarks.
The topic of the show, a mind in decline is such a huge topic, as is the Piccadilly Theatre. These larger than life concepts are magnified by the many items of furniture hanging artistically above the stage but yet when they come to the point in the drama that they are used they are nothing remarkable and they move in and out of the action silently. This cleverly demonstrates how even the biggest of concepts can be ordinary and even how the ordinary can become hard to fathom, it just depends on whose mind is viewing them.
It is not just the staging and the African-American family that sets this production of Death of A Salesman apart. The flashbacks are handled brilliantly, switching from naturalistic to a different reality using a sound effect, lighting and effective body language. I knew instantly that we had travelled back in time, to happier times.
The cast of Death of A Salesman is remarkable and one where you almost feel privileged to see such greats playing such modern day iconic roles. Wendell Pierce is Willy Loman and his acting is riveting. He commands your attention , even at the peak of him feeling at his worst you are unable to be anything but enthralled by him. Sharon D.Clarke is Linda Loman and immediately you warm to her and her increasing sense of helplessness that shines through.
Biff and Happy are played by Sope Dirisu and Natey Jones. Dirisu transforms when he is playing a younger Biff, from a man burdened to someone with not a care in the world. Jones is affable and easily convinced as a ladies man. Between the 4 of them they clearly show a family who love but are divided.
Death of A Salesman is a piece of theatre that provokes and prods the mind in this enthralling retelling of a classic.
Death of A Salesman is running until the 4th January 2020. For more information and tickets visit their website.