BWW Review: DEATH OF A SALESMAN at The Ringwald Is A Powerful Spin On A Classic
Death of A Salesman, running through March 11th at the Ringwald Theatre in Ferndale, is a powerful spin on an American classic. Written by Arthur Miller, Salesman won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as the 1949 Tony Award for Best Play. The story follows the character of Willy Loman, a failing salesman, who can't seem to win happiness and success. In this powerful spin on a classic, audiences will be transported into Loman's lonesome world, and will witness how the quest for one man's dream tears an entire family apart.
The Ringwald's production of Salesman was incredibly powerful right from the start. From the minute the play begins, audiences will be transported into the lonesome and sorry life of Willy Loman. The set of the show helps audiences to do just that. The set is painted entirely in grayscale, which sets the tone for the depressing life Willy lives.
Willy Loman is a lonesome character, too blinded by the idea of getting ahead to realize that he is shunning away the ones who care about him most. Plagued by mental illness in his final days, the audience is able to see the true effect of how mental illness can impact an entire family. Joel Mitchell embodies the character of Willy Loman with such honesty and sincerity. It is obvious that Mitchell put a large amount of preparation into performing such an iconic role. Mitchell's mannerisms onstage allow the audience to truly believe his character. Willy Loman has many different moods in the show; from hopelessness to hopefulness, to regret, anger, and sincerity. Mitchell shifts in and out of these moods effortlessly.
The heart-wrenching performance of Mitchell as Willy Loman is matched with an equally heart-wrenching performance by Kelly Komlen, playing Willy's wife. Throughout the course of the play, Linda Loman has to deal with the hardship of seeing a man she has loved her entire life decline physically, mentally, and emotionally. Komlen does an excellent job of portraying the true heartbreak that Linda has to deal with on a day-to-day basis by being married to Willy.
Another standout in the show was Donny Riedel, playing Willy Loman's son, Biff. Biff is a troubled man who has never lived up to his father's expectations. With the constant guilt of not being a successful businessman like his father wanted looming over his head, the show is in many cases an exploration into the deep and troubling world of Biff. Through different vignettes within the show, we see Biff change from happy and carefree in his high school days, to a miserable man who will never be good enough for his father. This is most notably seen in one of the final scenes of the show, during Biff's monologue to his father Willy. Riedel does a phenomenal job throughout the entire show of enveloping the spite that Biff has for his father. His performance as Biff is passionate and full of emotion.
Salesman is truly a powerful piece that will leave audiences in a reflecting on their own lives and choices. The Ringwald does a superb job of taking a classic piece of theatre and making it fresh.
Death Of A Salesman is directed by Joe Bailey. The cast includes Jeffrey McMahon (Happy Loman), Randy Stewart (Charley), Dante Jones (Bernard), Brandy Joe Plambeck (Howard), Tess Hannah (Miss Forsythe), Patricia Gajos (Letta), and Dyan Bailey (The Woman).
Death Of A Salesman runs at the Ringwald Theatre through March 11th. Tickets can be purchased at www.TheRingwald.com or at the theatre, located at 22742 Woodward Avenue in downtown Ferndale. The Ringwald box office opens 45 minutes before performances and tickets can be purchased with cash or credit card. For more information, please call 248-545-5545.
*Show information courtesy of The Ringwald.