ved the hard life of a traveling salesman, driving his New England territory. When his buyers and customers begin to die off or retire, he loses his contacts, hence his sales decline. Willy's wife, Linda, keeps meticulous track of the family's finances; she even knows how to calculate his amount commission.
Once a top salesman "? or, at least, making a decent living at it "? Willy starts to lose his stamina and the personal appeal that is a salesman's lifeblood. The products do not matter that much; a salesman is really selling himself, and the death of a salesman can be a slow demise, indeed.
On opening night, fine performances by the cast and effective staging by director W. Jerome Stevenson resulted in a satisfactory, if not greatly inspired production of this immortal pillar of American drama.
Willy is an interesting psychological study. He is losing his mind, but he is sane enough to know it, reeling between episodes of sanity and delusion. His breakdown is disturbing to watch, which is a tribute to James Hughes' performance. Although he looks a little young to be playing the 60-year-old Willy, Hughes does a fine job with this emotionally overwrought character. Willy switches from being an impelling pep-talker to his sons one moment to being a bitter self-loather the next moment.
Known mainly for playing character roles, Michael Edsel pleasantly surprises as Biff, the Loman's eldest son and a small-time kleptomaniac. His strong performance successfully captures Biff's wide and disturbed range of emotions.
At first, Rebecca Wooldridge's Linda Loman seems lethargic almost to the point of catatonia, but soon, you see that she is reflecting Willy's slow death in her character. It's an interesting and credible performance.
Lance Reese is imposing as Uncle Ben, who Willy unquestioningly and fatally admires to the point of tragedy. One would be hard-pressed to find a worse role model than Ben, who achieved success and wealth by knowing the futility of a fair fight.
Also notable for solid performances are Jake DeTommaso as Happy, the youngest Loman son; James Ong as Charley; and Doug Ford as Bernard.
Don Childs' set and lighting design hew closely to Miller's specifications and are highly effective.
Death of a Salesman stages at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 5 at Pollard Theatre, 120 W. Harrison in Guthrie.