The Ethel Barrymore Theatre Presents Death Of A Salesman
I was decidedly not going to review the current Broadway revival of “Death of a Salesman” for the Used York City readership. For starters, it has been discussed endlessly in the press before it even opened. Then the ticket costs are “divinely deep” and it has consistently set box office financial sales records in preview, despite the expensive ticket prices. The stars aligned when the cast was set…Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman, Andrew Garfield as Biff Loman, and Linda Emond as Linda Loman…in a great — if not, THE greatest — American drama. And let’s really lengthen the odds by having the legendary Mike Nichols direct this dream cast, and then hold this production to a 12 week limited run. Finding a theater district parking spot on a rain soaked Saturday evening could be easier than scoring a ticket for this short run. Now that being said, remember the power of American ingenuity…where there is a will there is certainly a way. NEVER accept sold out.
So should you find the tickets understandably too pricey, or the date you seek is sold up, then take full advantage of the “Rush Policy” in place for this production. At the box office, there are a limited number of $30 tickets available for every performance but only for that particular day. I suggest you get on line for tickets before the box office opens at 10 AM. There is a limit of two tickets per person, and you must be under the age of 30 (with proof) to take advantage of this offer. Any seat is a good one at the Ethel Barrymore, don’t let “upper mezzanine” deter you.
This is a superior play and a major Broadway revival cannot be overlooked. Most likely we all read “Death of a Salesman” in high school, and explored its themes and truths. Some may find it is no longer relevant. Perhaps you are experiencing your own personal version of the loss of the “American Dream,” you hardly need to go out of your way to see it presented on stage. We have our own family demons and dramas to deal with, to dwell on. Or perhaps America is our promised land, our city upon a hill — and we do not want that utopian vision disturbed. Self-reliance, resourcefulness, inventiveness…we keep going, we do what we must to take care of our own. But to what lengths do we go? At what price?
In the post war world of Willy Loman – the play is set right after America’s winning involvement in WWII– success no longer emanates from the sweat of your brow, but in the white collar world of retail sales where your “well liked” (stress on the “well”) personality is your ticket upward. Each generation must improve on its predecessor and so for Willy’s sons, Biff and Happy, the next step up would be management. A new middle class was forming and it was entrepreneurial, managerial… success was no longer a rural, physically back breaking achievement. And in Willy’s eyes, Biff was a logical and worthy candidate, the rightly inheritor of a comfortable suburban life.
“Finding a theater district parking spot on a rain soaked Saturday evening could be easier than scoring a ticket for this short run. Now that being said, remember the power of American ingenuity…where there is a will there is certainly a way. NEVER accept sold out.”
“Attention must be paid” to this landmark drama. This current production is so well drawn, directed, performed — from the original two storied Jo Mielziner set depicting the bare bones, middle class Loman household, to the pathos of Alex North’s original music – everything is right with this revival. The performances, especially those of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Andrew Garfield are towering, they establish an immediate zone of realism, you feel like you are sitting in their living room. Also take note of Finn Wittrock as Happy, a star on the rise judging from this performance. As the emotional conflicts swell and dangerously border on the physical, I was totally drawn in, completely engaged. I personally wanted to help stop the verbal hemorrhaging, halt the damaging hurts furiously tumbling out of the characters mouths…I knew what truths lay ahead…I silently muttered “Please don’t go there…it’s not our business.” I felt I was eaves dropping on this family.
A rich drama like “Death of a Salesman” will always have something new for the audience to discover, and a major Broadway revival should shed new light or establish another dimension in a tale fraught with resonance. Don’t ignore the signal beacon at the Ethel Barrymore Theater this Spring season. Find a way inside. And don’t give up on finding that midtown Saturday evening parking space in the theater district, try the side streets in the fifties, off 9th Avenue.
WHAT: Arthur Miller’s “Death Of A Salesman“ WHERE: The Ethel Barrymore Theatre 243 West 47th Street New York, New York
By: Joanne Theodorou