Death of a Salesman

Production: Death of a Salesman

Venue: York Theatre Royal

Rating: ****

Arthur Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman, portrays Willy Loman, a travelling salesman who’s disillusioned with life. Through a series of flashbacks, the audience glimpses Willy’s past and his loosening grip on reality.

Willy has been brought to the brink by the cruel capitalist system. George Costigan’s performance in the lead role is compelling. There are occasional slips in his intensity, however they add to the characterisation.

The cast are believable in their roles. Joseph Rye’s performance as Biff stood out. Kieran Hill as his brother, Happy, was not as convincing, lacking Rye’s stage presence. Eileen O’Brien as Linda, Willy’s long-suffering wife, displayed the strength of a woman who has remained steadfast against strong adversity.

An impressive set coveys the restrictive confines of the Loman residence, comprising two sliding platforms and a large poster acting as a backdrop, displaying an idolised America. The platforms lose their effectiveness as more action takes place outside the family home. The constant mechanical shuffling restricted the flow of the performance. In particular, Willy’s slips from reality to memory become more jarred and less plausible.

Damien Cruden, director, relied on Miller’s original staging. In doing so, Cruden was able to focus on the real issues that are raised. The result is a convincing, touching and stellar  production.

Death of a Salesman is showing at the York Theatre Royal until 29th November.