Making the ‘Loman’ Family Black made ‘Death of a Salesman’ even Stronger
If Arthur Miller was still with us he would’ve enjoyed the Young Vic’s production of his classic and timeless play, Death of a Salesman. Directed by Marianne Elliott and Miranda Cromwell, the strong cast delivers an outstanding performance in this very well presented piece which had me both laughing and crying almost on demand.
For those not familiar with this work in very brief summary, Death of a Salesman follows the story of a proud and determined but weary salesman, Willy Loman (Wendell Pierce) who from the outset is barely holding onto sanity in the vain hope that his change will come and things will get better for both him and his boys. The play itself is excellent, but the true beauty of this particular version is the decision to cast an all-black ‘Loman’ family which brought a significant elevation to the intensity and another level of meaning to their struggle to rise above the lines of poverty and to prove that they are more than what they appear to be, just a normal family struggling to make ends meet.
The ensemble delivered an award-worthy performance all-round that was a credit to their parents, teachers, mentors and everyone who has had a hand in getting to them to this time in their careers. We’re all used to seeing Wendell Pierce play very strong and formidable characters so it was pure delight and really showed his excellent ability to deliver a flawless character when he had to show such levels of vulnerability as his role of the very broken Willy Loman. Sharon D. Clarke shined as his supportive wife; Martins Imhangbe perfectly frustrated us in his role as the flippant and somewhat obnoxious Happy; but for me, it was the absolute brilliance of the tortured Biff, played by Arinze Kene that had me holding my head whilst trying to hide my tears.
When they decided to appoint Kwame Kwei-Armah as the Artistic Director of the Young Vic, they made a decision that will forever be imprinted in the memory of London’s lovers of theatre and the beyond excellent delivery of Death of a Salesman by the directors, producers and cast is proof of this.
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