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BWW Review: DEATH OF A SALESMAN Effects Spring Green

American Players Theater Director Kenneth Albers includes the following poem in his director's notes.

From The moment we enter the theater

And read the title of the play

We know we are captive to a suicide

And cannot look away

He is correct. We understand the relationship we are entering into. We do this with eyes wide open. Then, during the course of the play...magic happens.

Willy Loman (Wonderfully portrayed by Brian Mani) is a phony, a faker. He may very well be aware of this fact, and yet...he may not. Who among us has not a time or two filled in the blank spaces of our memory? I did not find Willy to be malicious, just a poor misguided failure of sorts.

Death of a Salesman is really about the relationship between the Loman men. Happy (energetically portrayed by Casey Hoekstra) has always stuck close to home, following in his father's footsteps which includes both his relationships with the truth and women. Biff (Marvelously portrayed by Marcus Truschinski) is the prodigal son, struggling with an identity crisis who constantly disappoints.

Biff has returned home yet again, and is beginning to confront the truth of who he is, and more importantly, who he is not. To do this he must confront his past and his father. Biff just wants to be honest, neither Willy nor Happy want any part of that. Thus the conflict that is tearing the Loman family apart.

While the Loman patriarch rules the roost, it may be Linda (Brilliantly portrayed by Tracy Michelle Arnold) who quietly steals the show, as she tries to maintain peace within her home. When confronted with the real idea that her beloved may have suicidal ideations, Linda bravely puts on a stiff upper lip and merely continues to love and care for the man.

Some of the magic takes place in the scenes between the scenes. They are the subtle intimacies that happen between Willy and Linda that truly draw us in. The looks, the way she fusses with his cloths, those apparent unintentional intimate acts that identify couples. These two actors have done a beautiful job of creating this chemistry on stage. You can see the love in every nuance.

The other piece of magic comes from the humor. I had forgotten about the humor in this show. There are genuinely funny scenes that are so well acted that the audience is able to momentarily forget just where we are headed. We get to look at this family from every angle. We see the love and the disappointment. The hope and the fear.

The special effects are realistic and bring about the expected emotional response. When we emerged from the darkness I looked over at my partner and our 15 year old daughter, there was not a dry eye among us, and the daughter was doing her best to hide her tears. When the show had ended to the standing ovation the actors had earned, my daughter stated what I think sums up the show perfectly. She said, "I wanted to be all stone cold killer, but that really hit me in my feels."

Well stated kid. Well stated.

You still have time to see this great performance. Shows run through mid-September.

Photo Credit: Liz Lauren

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From This Author Scott Rawson