By Tara Ramsay
Queensland Theatre hit a home run with their current production of the Pulitzer award winning play 'The Death Of A Salesman’ by Arthur Miller. There are no spoiler alerts, as the title says it all. We sit in the audience and watch the slow disintegration of salesman Willy Loeman (Peter Kowitz), played to perfection in front of our very eyes, who was once mildly successful, (extremely successful in his own eyes) in both his work and home life, and who is now, slowly losing his mind.
It begun with gasps from the audience the moment the outside wall of the Loeman house split into three, letting us peer inside the double storey, white weatherboard home.
Within the first few moments we were introduced to Willy and his family, immediately we see the love that Willy’s wife Linda (Angie Miliken) has for him, she is doting and her belief in him almost convinced me he was the perfect man until we meet his sons Happy/Howard (Jackson McGovern) and Biff (Thomas Larkin), staying at home in the upstairs bedroom and discussing the long running rift between Biff and his father, who for most of his life put Biff on a pedestal and filled his head with big ideas, which we learn, he could never live up to.
It’s a play that reading, could easily confuse as there are multiple time jumps from past to present but I felt Director Jason Klarwein used the house as another character and with the help of perfectly timed lighting, sound and smoke, seen through the walls of the back of the house to play out different moments in Loeman’s history made sure we didn’t get lost. All the actors did an impeccable job of switching back to their happier, younger selves changing vocal and physical characteristics but still staying true to themselves.
Biff’s emotional range was outstanding and heartbreaking when he couldn’t keep up the charade
anymore. I loved the cheeky bickering between Willy and Charley (Charles Allen) and his son
Bernard’s (IIai Swindells) passion to help Biff get better at school, whilst being constantly mocked by the Loeman’s. The calming ghost of Uncle Ben (Kevin Hides) was a constant reminder of all Willy didn’t achieve. I wish I had more room to comment on all the actor’s performances as they all deserve praise, but there are a lot of characters and this is a short review!
Whilst travelling salesman are now a dime a dozen thanks to the internet age, this play from 1949 still resonates, with much of society rating success on how many likes you have on social media, Willy says it himself not only do you have to be ‘liked – but WELL liked’ and that’s the key to success, or so he thinks.
I left feeling there is a little piece of Willy Loeman in all of us, anyone who has ever had a larger than life dream, or embellished a memory from days past to boost your own ego.
Certainly worth a watch!
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.