THEATRE REVIEW: Death of a Salesman ★★★★
Death of a Salesman
Young Vic, London
Wednesday 1st May - Saturday 13th July 2019
Arthur Miller's 1949 play surrounding the mental health of Father and Husband Willy Loman, is that of a theatrical classic, though one I knew little about before attending this production, which is beautifully co-directed by Marianne Elliott & Miranda Cromwell respectfully. It is one though where you can see the outcome by the time you get to the interval, where the second act only provides meat between the characters to provide and sustain the full impact of a devastating climax, if not including scenes which only seem to seem to fill time before we get the final showdown and an almost rushed finale.
Making his UK stage debut, Wendell Pierce is captivating as Willy, a complex and deeply troubled character to which Pierce showcases a compelling array of emotions, which can undoubtedly be said for his fellow performers on stage; Sharon D Clarke as wife and mother Linda Loman, Arinzé Kene as the stubborn and stern son Biff Loman, and finally Martins Imhangbe as the more timid and subtle Happy Loman, who brings a sensitivity to the role. When all four mains are on stage the atmosphere around the whole space is sharply cut with tension splitting throughout, and is pulsing erratically especially verging into the latter half of the second act, where the flashbacks in which we have been witnessing to throughout the performance, designed by Aideen Malone, pave way for a showdown in which Kene especially gives a blinding performance of a son who has been living with so much guilt off his father's wrongdoing!
Anna Fleischle's set brings a sense of harmony and warmth to create the different settings laid out in the story, ultimately climaxing to where it all started, back at the Loman's household. It is even more poignant though having read the sad passing of her father that those who read this extract in the programme will have a greater sense of understanding in what lays ahead for the Loman family and their surrounding areas. The final image of this production on stage will be that of a lasting moment in many minds who were just as captivated as I most certainly was. The vocals provided by the cast also provided an eerily sound that will ring out long after you leave the auditorium, to which Clarke gives a sweltering performance, having previously seen her wowing audiences in Caroline or Change.
Overall, Harper and Cromwell's vision for Arthur Miller's classic is filled with suspence and a trailblazing success, with a compelling and multi-skilled case who captivate throughout.