To capture the intensity and tumult of the Loman family in Death of a Salesman is no mean feat, but the Bailey Theatre Company perform a triumph. With unwavering energy and a cast who make each role fill the room, Arthur Miller’s classic play, directed by Molly Byford, is well worth the watch.
Upon entry into St John’s College old library the audience are greeted with soft hues of yellow and blue lighting and background modern-day America themed music to set the tone. Together the gentle lighting and intricately clever set create an intimate setting as we are let into the Lomans’ lives.
An exemplary performance
Willy Loman is a salesman who is struggling under the relentless weight of the American dream of making it big and making it bigger and better than people he wants to impress. Charlie Howe takes to the lead role comfortably, as we witness Loman’s unravelling personal life, and for the most part carries the depth warranted for the struggles his character goes through.
An exemplary performance is given by Ellie Fidler, playing Willy’s wife, Linda Loman, as she captivates the audience with emotional and utterly masterful acting. Fidler performs with conviction, drawing the audience into her character with charm and ease as the Loman family bonds are tested.
Samad Chowdhury, playing Biff Loman, and Dan Carr, playing Happy Loman, demonstrate great stage presence as they switch easily between their younger and older selves, only slightly hampered by the sometimes confusing portrayal of the passage of time. Whilst the set is designed well and space used effectively to convey different locations, it is sometimes limited in its ability to demonstrate changes in time as characters crowd around a small area.
a compelling performance of someone simultaneously troubled by their past and present
Chowdhury carefully constructs Biff Loman and, through commanding the stage, delivers a compelling performance of someone simultaneously troubled by their past and present. Giving an emotional display, Chowdhury, alongside Fidler, helps to convey the nuances of emotion in a difficult situation, carrying themes that resonate today and transcend time.
In particular, the lighting is used well to highlight flashbacks and allow various conversations to occur simultaneously onstage with different characters. The actors all engage dynamically with the set creating a flowing piece of theatre which only occasionally gets stuck as audience views are restricted by positioning onstage. At several points when characters are sitting down it becomes difficult for the audience to see, which somewhat compromises those scenes and can make it tricky to follow.
Although the American accent slips in some parts, and a couple of the minor characters perform with less conviction and deliver slightly wooden performances, the overall piece of theatre comes together to deliver an unsettling but important glimpse into the despair of the American dream.
Death of a Salesman deftly deals with sensitive topics still relevant in today’s society
Alike the subtle but effective lighting used throughout the performance, music is inserted somewhat sporadically in between and in the background of various scenes. Whilst it can seem a bit random at times, the music focuses the emotion of the characters and heightens the atmosphere onstage which keeps the momentum going throughout the near three-hour play.
Death of a Salesman deftly deals with sensitive topics still relevant in today’s society, but the actors do an impressive job to slot lighter moments into the scenes, providing snatches of comic relief here and there. An engaging piece of theatre, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, pushes the actors who give a vivid, strong performance of the classic. Bailey Theatre Company are also supporting the ‘If U Care, Share’ foundation throughout the shows.
Image: Bailey Theatre Company