Arthur Miller’s classic tragedy, “Death of a Salesman,” is currently showing at Firehouse theatre, with expert direction by Rusty Wilson. Willy Loman is a salesman whose once successful career has, in recent years, become quite the opposite. Set in the 1940’s, “Salesman,” follows the aging Willy as he tries to understand why business just isn’t what it used to be.
Joe Inscoe gives a positively inspiring performance as the troubled Willy, definitely worthy of the standing “O” he received from the audience the night I attended. Inscoe made Willy’s feelings of utter hopelessness palpable for the audience. Jacqueline Jones plays Willy’s ever understanding and patient wife, Linda, and having seen Jones perform in numerous productions I am always fascinated by her ability to play so many diverse roles with such ease.
Adrian Rieder plays Biff, Willy’s son, who was once a promising high school athlete. Rieder’s performance is amazing as always, most notably during Biff’s speech to Willy at the end, which was so raw you genuinely feel Biff’s pain as he tries to get Willy to accept him for who he is. Matt Bloch plays Willy’s other son, Happy, who is constantly trying to distract himself with women and other vices to distance himself from the painful reality that his father is sinking. Rieder and Bloch are great together on stage, making their brotherly relationship feel very real.
This play hits home for a lot of people in this current economy and watching it was very emotional. The set by Phil Hayes was very good, I am always amazed to see what Firehouse is able to accomplish with a relatively small space. However, several of the characters move their own props and set pieces to change scenes and that felt a little strange. Especially when Willy’s boss, Howard, played by Jay O. Millman, picks up his own desk and walks away with it after a scene. The lighting by Andrew Bonniwell was very impressive particularly the use of pink hues to indicate one of Willy’s flashbacks.
“Death of a Salesman” is playing at Firehouse through December 15th
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.