DRT's vibrant production, it's an experience that will leave you gasping.
Salesman is a triumph for DRT producer/director Ed DeLatte - not only because he invests the events onstage with
the intensity and pulse they require, but
for his meticulous placement of each
theatrical element in time, space, and sequence: the play of Michael Foutch's
lights over Dejah Moore's ambitious set is
dramatic in itself; Eloise Swanson's witty
costuming of two amateur whores (sweet
and dry) creates the characters as much
as Mary Durall and Susan Coleman, the
talented actresses who play the parts.
It is in the acting that this production
glows. From Cal Duggan's wordless Bus-
boy to The Salesman himself, beautifully
played by Bob Magruder, this cast acts,
reacts, and interacts with the selfless conviction of a company of stars - for which
we may thank DeLatte.
Bob Magruder's Willy Loman is exhausted "to the death" before the play
begins, a shuffling hulk vivified into flickering life by the ever-increasing visitation
of past dreams. Dreadful as it is to see
him moved to rage, it is when hope visits
the sagging face that we want to avert our
eyes in pity and horror.
Joan Foy's fine-boned beauty and plangent voice make Willy's devoted wife Linda a thoroughbred too good for the man
whose life's fate she tragically chooses to
As son Biff, the object of Willy's fanatic
devotion, B.J. Theus is the image of Corrupted All-American Boy, his firm-chinned, short-nosed handsomeness flawed by
the self-doubt that haunts the wide blue
eyes. Like Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy, Theus displays a teddybear sweetness all the more poignant for being embodied in a loser's personality.
On the other hand, Steven Linn as the
oversexed younger brother Happy displays a tacky charm as insidious as it is
amusing -until the sweep of events reveals the spite beneath the cocky grin,
and beneath that, naked vulnerability.
Linn's campily explicit pickup of "Miss
Forsythe" in the restaurant scene, Handsomely assisted by Mary Durall and Clifford Samuelson's Waiter, is genuine comic relief.
Riley Austin, Miles Mutchler, and
Lynne Roots also provide lighter moments: the two men as Bernard and Charley, the son and father who, unlike Willy,
don't need to talk about it because they
can do it; Miss Roots as the Other Woman, younger and sexier than Miller's in-
spiredly dowdy Miss Frances, and with a
distinct touch of professionalism.
Will leVison's Uncle Ben, Willy's dream-
image of material success, is a monstrous
old bastard, heroic in scale, all the more
terrifying for his joviality. Rod Blaydes
as Howard, the boss's son, is a bastard
neat, with no scale whatever - which is
just what the playwright ordered. Paula
Gilbert as Jenny the secretary doesn't
have much in the way of a part, but she
looks spiffy in platform heels and Rosalind Russell pinstripes.
It's always difficult to assign credit for
a production as well-meshed as this; all
theatre is collaboration. So let me end
simply by saying Death of a Salesman
will run through February 16 with Friday
and Saturday performances and a Sunday
matinee. After that you can prove your
faith in fairies at DRT's Peter Pan (the
musical version) at North Park Community Hall.
Western Man's Bar
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