Directed by Brian McEleneyFeaturing Stephen Berenson as Willy Loman
An American masterpiece
This classic tale of the perilously high cost of the American Dream explodes with poignancy and relevance. Willy Loman desperately craves success for himself and his sons, but stark reality cannot live up to his dreams. The wall of delusions he has constructed quietly crumbles around him while a devastated and demoralized man searches in vain for a hidden path to greatness. Death of a Salesman is a Pulitzer-Prize winning masterpiece that everyone should see performed live.
This show is performed as part of the fall rep, The American Dream, Then and Now. For more information about Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew, performed in repertory with Death of a Salesman, click here.
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Willy Loman – an ageing and tired salesman – returns to his wife Linda in their Brooklyn home after an unsuccessful attempt to complete his drive to New England – his territory. Willy clings to delusions and memories, while Linda supports him and tries to make ends meet from his meager commissions. She worries every day about the suicide attempts that he’s made.
His son Biff’s arrival brings conflicting emotions: disappointment at his son’s failure to “find himself” and hope that the one-time football hero will find success. Biff and his brother Happy are concerned with the man they find at home. Willy has crashed his car several times and has long conversations with his long-deceased brother Ben. Linda remains devoted to her husband and chastises her boys for not recognizing the worth of their father. After 36 years with the company, Willy has had his salary taken away as his ability to make the sales pales in comparison to what he accomplished decades earlier when he opened up entire new territories for the company.
Biff tries to make his father proud by seeking out funding from an old boss so that he can make his own success. Biff and Happy plan a dinner with Willy to celebrate, but the dinner ends in disaster. Earlier that day, Willy meets with his boss Howard, trying to convince him to allow Willy to sell locally instead of traveling throughout New England. Instead Willy is fired. But he still holds out hope for his son’s success. However, not only has Biff not even been able to get a meeting with his contact, the boys abandon Willy at the restaurant and depart with women they’ve just met.
So many things haven’t gone right for Willy over his life. He passed up the chance to follow his brother Ben to Africa, where Ben made his fortune. Biff’s adoration for his father was rocked to its core when he showed up unexpectedly at Willy’s Boston hotel room and made a discovery that destroyed Biff’s faith in him.
Willy returns home humiliated and Linda, furious, tells their sons to get out of their father’s life. Biff and Willy have one final fight that leaves Willy touched with his son’s love. The best way to provide for his success, Willy finally determines, is the life insurance policy he’s been dutifully making payments on for years.
Willy Loman’s tragedy is complete and his funeral largely ignored. In Linda’s tearful goodbye she tells Willy that the last payment was made on their house that day – they’re finally free.
Cast & Creative
Fred Sullivan, Jr.
"By common consent, this is one of the finest dramas in the whole range of the American theater."