Widely considered one of the greatest plays of the twentieth century, it’s almost 70 years since Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Death of a Salesman was first performed on Broadway. Now the Royal Exchange’s Sarah Frankcom steps up to direct Miller’s masterpiece with Don Warrington taking the role of Willy Loman and Maureen Beattie as Willy’s loving and loyal wife, Linda.
Death of a Salesman – a giant of contemporary American drama – manages to illuminate the time it was written while resounding startlingly with the present day. The timeless story chronicles a series of events for Willy Loman, a 63-year-old travelling salesman who sentimentalises the American Dream despite its obvious shortcomings. The play is a pertinent examination of a man let down by a system that has promised him, and his family, the world.
Willy Loman is an ordinary man. He’s the New England man and he’s well-liked. He’s been on the road for over thirty years. He’s paid his way and one day he’s going to come good. When his son Biff returns home, suddenly things are looking up. Because you reap what you sow, right?
Death of a Salesman is a devastating classic about striving for what’s out of reach and the downfall of the American Dream.
As the ground shifts beneath the feet of Americans daily, this seminal play holds a light up to the political and aspirational systems of nations that abandon men like Willy, setting families adrift.
In the modern day, Death of a Salesman resonates more than ever – the current moment couldn’t be more opportune for re-encountering Willy Loman, an American dreamer fighting a losing battle with fortune. In times of fake news accusations, where ‘perception-is-everything’, and being ‘well-liked’ means keeping a close count on your Facebook likes and Twitter followers, the play feels uncomfortably, though fascinatingly timely.