BWW Reviews: The Alley's DEATH OF A SALESMAN is a Beautifully Tragic Pristine Production

With stunning emotional clarity, The Alley Theatre is presenting Arthur Miller's quintessentially American and classic family drama DEATH OF A SALESMAN as part of their 2012-2013 season. The play premiered in 1949 and has become a show of legendary status in the development of American dramatic theatre. It most recently enjoyed a successful Broadway revival that closed on June 2, 2012 and starred Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman.

The play, originally titled THE INSIDE OF HIS HEAD, takes the audience through the mind of Willy Lowman as he struggles with the pressures of paying all the bills after his job has significantly reduced his compensation. Additionally, the audience watches as Willy Loman falls apart while attempting to reconcile some sort of meaningful, working relationship with his adult sons. As presented by The Alley, this intense and tear inducing drama is thought-provoking and revelatory.

Gregory Boyd's direction of the play is exceptional. The weighty material never drags and each emotion is given the utmost importance, allowing the audience not to simply witness the turmoil of the characters but to truly feel it and understand it. With Gregory Boyd's direction the play is just as cerebral as it is heartbreaking, allowing the audience to delve deep into Arthur Miller's richly thematic text and derive meaning from the play that is just as relevant, if not more so, in 2012 as it was in 1949.

Starring as Willy Loman, Glenn Flesher adroitly brings the character to striking life. The audience simply gets lost in his ambitious dreaming and constantly hopes, like Willy, for positive outcomes along the way. His Willy Loman is the consummate dreamer always chasing success and wondering "what's the secret." Brilliant throughout the entire performance, watching Glenn Flesher deliver his Act II monologue in Howard Wagner's office is utterly compelling and supremely rewarding. He brings sincerity, grit, and honesty to each line and strikes a fantastic cord as he proclaims, "You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away. A man is not a piece of fruit." Towards the end of Act II, Glenn Flesher brings his characterization to the visceral level, ultimately causing the audience to remove all the oxygen from the auditorium with an audible gasp in the play's devastating climatic moment.

Zachary Spicer as Biff is fantastic. He expertly navigates the role, imbuing it with childlike charm and charisma. Biff's struggles with settling down and finding himself are tangible and relatable, especially since he is so imbued with classic American ideals and dreams. Zachary Spicer's magnetism easily wins the audience over, which renders the audience silent and bates their breath during his pristinely executed and superbly acted Act II fight with Glenn Flesher's Willy.

As Linda, Josie de Guzman is divine perfection. Having previously only seen her in humor-filled roles, I was simply stunned and blown away by how adroitly she brings tangible emotional clarity to the role. Her discussion of the rubber hose at the end of Act I caused tears to well in my eyes. Josie de Guzman's Linda's is driven by her desire to keep the family unit intact and functional, and she easily breaks the audience's heart when she allows her character to become enraptured in misery. Then she steals our hearts away, breaking them even further with the dramatic irony of the situations in which Linda is allowed to experience hope for something better.

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David Clarke David Clarke has had a lifelong love and passion for the performing arts, and has been writing about theatre both locally and nationally for years. He joined running their Houston site in early 2012 and began writing as the site's official theatre recording critic in June of 2013.

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