One of the only benefits to being underemployed is that it leaves your Wednesday afternoons free. I still get up obscenely early every day and the week before last I woke up before 8 on Wednesday and decided to try my luck at the rush line for Death of a Salesman. There were already 20 or so people ahead of me when I got there, but on the other side of the sidewalk was the four person line for people waiting for rush tickets for the matinee. I was given a bracelet as a guarantee that I’d get tickets and I sat next to former Rockette and waited for an hour and a half. I ended up in Row B in the orchestra to the side. There was a full cast and I was ecstatic to finally see a staged version of this classic.
This is a play that is almost shoved down the throats of high school-aged kids, so you probably know what it’s about. It’s a three-hour long tragedy that when acted pristinely is a beautiful tragedy to watch.
The set, a middle class family’s house designed by Jo Mielziner, is beautiful to look at. The lighting, designed by Brian MacDevitt, is also exquisite. The best part of this production is, obviously, the cast. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the title role of Willy Loman, with Linda Edmond supporting him as Linda Loman. The sons, Biff and Happy, are played respectively by Andrew Garfield and Finn Wittrock.
Hoffman and Edmond are fantastic, as expected, but Garfield was a different story. We know he can act in movies, but the timeless question of theatre snobs is, “But can they actually act onstage without 15 takes?” Well, I was thrilled to conclude that Garfield can indeed act onstage. His transitions between being 17 and 31 were easeful and believable. He broke down crying no fewer than 4 times in the second act, all believably. Finn Wittrock, a more seasoned stage actor, was also heartbreaking as Happy. A last stand-out in the cast was Fran Kranz as the nerdy-turned-successful schoolmate of the Loman brother’s, Bernard.
This revival of Death of a Salesman is tragically beautiful in every sense of the phrase. It was definitely worth those 90 minutes on the street.