A brotherhood of salesmen is all about the personality, respect and comradeship between men with a common goal. Willy Loman bases his life around this dogma and dreams of living it to the extent that will warrant a large funeral turnout. Throughout the play we see how he may have focused on “all the wrong dreams…”
At the center of his second family, Willy Loman (Timothy Anderson) takes pride in his job as a salesman, and only wants to instill this same sense of pride into his sons, Biff (Christopher Scheid) and Happy (Timothy Liu). All is well while Biff is a star football player and Happy is, well, happy; however, as time goes on, a series of events creates a downward spiral that only a mother can try to patch. This task is placed heavily on Linda’s (Peggy Waldron) shoulders. A model peacemaker, bookkeeper, and supporter, she only wants the best for her family, even if it means tearing it apart in the name of respect and sanity. Linda shows equal parts dedicated matriarch and passionate wife as she strongly urges her sons to pay more attention and respect to their father even when her husband experiences spurts of madness. The love for her husband brings out more of a maternal side when it seems like she’s talking to a five-year-old at times, especially when she describes her husband as a “little boat looking for a harbor.”
Anderson shows the strongest performance as “a fine troubled prince.” His highs and lows blend naturally as Willy relives his memories, both good and bad. We see his dedication to his job and family through his lucid conversations and even as he dramatically changes subjects in the middle of a scene. No matter how many times Charley (Paul Saunders) plays cards and tries to calm Willy down, Uncle Ben (Walt Rosenfeld) comes back from estrangement/adventure/death to throw Willy off course.
Scheid also pulls off a powerful performance as the “lazy” son, Biff, who’s not afraid to show respect for his mother or the close relationship with his brother. Like his father, Biff has high hopes for the future. If Biff only listened to Bernard’s (Kevin Hallam) warnings about flunking out of math, this might have been a whole other story.
Other highlights include the alternating projection of photos that were used as the backdrop, but only when the correct photo was showing. Howard Wagner’s (Derek Capre) excitement over his newfangled recorder was also contagious, but the microphone glitches took away some of the enthusiasm. The award for best laugh goes to The Woman (Jean Prall Rosolino), but only when it didn’t override some of the dialogue.
The cast rounds out with notable performances by Lauren Makrancy as Jenny/Letta, Wayne Rossignol as Stanley, and Aziza Seven as Miss Forsythe.
Whether dreaming of success in business or pleasure, DEATH OF A SALESMAN shows the strength of true love and how the support of family can change everything.
DEATH OF A SALESMAN
by Arthur Miller
Directed by Ruth Markoe
February 24- March 4, 2012
Kelsey Theatre at Mercer (Pierrot Productions)
Mercer County Community College
1200 Old Trenton Road
West Windsor, NJ 08550