Archikulture Digest

Death Of A Salesman

Death Of A Salesman

By Arthur Miller

Directed by Frank Hilgenberg

Starring James Zelley, Cira Larkin, Daniel Cooksey, Dean Walkuski

Theater Downtown, Orlando, Fl</strong>

I find child actors and high school football heroes the saddest of all people – they taste success early, but never again find that easy glory. That’s Willy Loman (Zelley), a once hot traveling salesman now reduced to a shadow of his former self. Maybe the market changed, maybe the economy faltered, maybe his mind is slipping, but the bottom line is the same – he’s not cracking the nut anymore, and his reality gradually slips away. While Willy’s wife Linda (Larkin) stays loyal, His sons Biff (Walkuski) and Hap (Cooksley) are bunking upstairs for a few weeks, preparing to take that same journey. Biff’s been shoplifting out west, while Hap chases skirts for no reason other than he’s good at it. If only they’d done their math homework with geeky cousin Bernard (Stephen Pugh), they might have something positive going on in their lives.

Zelley’s Loman blusters and bullies through the show, his gaunt features reflecting the thinness of his life and his self selling sounding thinner and thinner as the evening progresses. While he won’t take the blame for his children’s failures, deep down he knows he messed up somewhere, but refuses to accept that failure. Cooksley adopts a smug swagger and a sense of style that reeks of too much cologne and hair oil. Walkuski is the introvert, looking more the deranged serial killer, and when he breaks down you almost expect to hear “I coulda been a contender!” Larkin plays the wife like a wilting flower, always making nice, defending her fading husband, and so devoted to him she’d never spend the insurance money. Supporting the main cast we find a resonant Uncle Ben (Lee Lupton) looking the part of an Alaskan planter, and henpecked Stephen Pugh once again placed in to argyle patterned plus fours.

Willy’s black and white judgment system places style over substance, and rates everyone as either Madonna or Whore. He teaches his sons that Cool is better than Competent, getting laid is more important that being loved, and there’s no need to reach out and risk yourself, because you will automatically get what you deserve. That last condition comes true like a Greek prophecy; the letter will be fulfilled while the apparent intention will be subverted. Plenty of substance in this show, and well produced to boot.

For more information, please visit http://www.theatredowntown.net


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