Academic journal article The Arthur Miller Journal

An Enjoyable Production Sprinkled with Moments of Brilliance

Academic journal article The Arthur Miller Journal

An Enjoyable Production Sprinkled with Moments of Brilliance

Article excerpt

Expectation for the latest portrayal of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman could not be much higher, as Tony award winning director (Mike Nichols) Oscar winning actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and Hollywood's latest franchise star (Andrew Garfield) attempt to breathe new life into Arthur Miller's famous work.

As soon as the curtain rises, the striking visual presence of the set is evident. Nichols recreates the set from the original production in 1949. This is one of the great successes of the new show. The set is lit brilliantly, projecting a mournful and nostalgic feel to Willy Loman's Brooklyn home. This, coupled with Alex North's original flute music, allows the play to move seamlessly from scene to scene-from Willy's interactions with his sons, to his delusions and memories.

While successes are merited in the aesthetics of the play, it quickly becomes apparent that the production may fall short in the casting. The 44 year old Philip Seymour Hoffman, although a great actor, never really seems to fit the visuals of the 62-year-old Willy Loman created by Miller. For me this not only detracts from some of the interactions between Willy and his son Biff, but also takes away from the tired and weathered Willy Loman that I read on the page.

Similar problems occur between Biff (Andrew Garfield) and Happy (Finn Wittrock). Some of the older/younger brother relationship is lost because there is no obvious age difference between the two actors. For me those gut-wrenching, incredibly real family interactions that Miller portrays throughout the play lose some credibility, or at least dramatic impact, when the visual age difference of the actors are so inconsistent with the ones Miller provides in the text. …

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