Skip to main content

Death of A Salesman

Perth Theatre
4 stars
In the current economic climate, Arthur Miller’s masterly study of one
man’s downfall in a world where everything is for sale now looks like
the most painfully prophetic of all his mighty works. On a purely
domestic level, watching Willy Loman’s slow, self-deluded suicide as
the very edifice of everything he ever put faith in collapses around
him is even more harrowing. Rather than graft on any over-egged thesis,
however, Ian Grieve’s swansong production as artistic director at Perth
somewhat wisely lets Miller’s play speak for itself.

The result is both a telling insight into the cruelties of a boom and
bust society where the big-talking pitch is the norm, as well as a
compelling tragedy concerning the loneliness of the long-distance
little guy and the far-reaching consequences of his on-the-road
indiscretions. At first when Ron Emslie’s weary Willy first starts
talking to himself on Ken Harrison’s busy set, conjuring up scenes of
less tired times when he was king of the world to his two boys, you
suspect such ramblings may be signaling the onset of Alzheimer’s
Disease. Soon, though, it becomes clear that Willy is plummeting in an
emotional and psychological freefall he’s too emasculated to deal with.

There’s a dream-like quality at play here, as Willy’s past and present
collide in a maelstrom of hand-me-down baggage that his sons Biff and
Happy have each inherited parts of. As the play’s centre, Emslie
navigates Willy through this with a bluff vulnerability that thoroughly
convinces. With Willy thrown onto the scrap-heap by the most
unsentimental of systems, the crash, when it comes, may be freedom of
sorts, but even that has its price.

The Herald, February 14th 2011

ends.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …