I enjoy theater, but The Death of a Salesman was a new experience for me. Since the subject matter of this show is so dark, and it deals with such difficult situations, I was expecting to come out of there with a feeling of hopelessness and despair. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the experience of watching the show.
As with any show, there are many questions within this one that the director and actors have had to answer to make the characters more realistic. In this production Linda was a very sympathetic character, who, even though she was enabling her husband’s delusions, made you feel sorry for her.
The most intriguing choice made by the director of the show was to use alumni and faculty actors for many of the lead parts. Since the characters of this show are all older than the average college student, this decision is very easily justified. The experience of watching these seasoned actors portray their parts was a delight.
One critique I would give would be for the cast not to smoke cigarettes on stage during the show. The cast was careful to use herbal cigarettes and made sure that the audience was aware that they were going to use them.
Even so, I heard a few of the audience members complaining about the smell, and coughing during a scene in which one burned downstage in an ashtray. This alone was not much of an issue, but could discourage some patrons from attending.
The only true problem I found was one of logistics. This production is being performed in Shamblin Theatre, which is nice if you get a seat with an unobstructed view. But the use of tables on the sides made it difficult to move to unobstructed positions.
I was behind a pillar that blocked my view of about a quarter of the stage, which made it difficult for me to fully appreciate what was on the stage at any given moment, especially since that corner of the stage was used for much of the show.
Altogether, even with these difficulties, the show was an amazing experience. Seeing the faculty and alumni performing side by side with the current students gave me a sense of the future that these students have in the theatre.
While they may not perform for a living, they will still be able to find the joy of performance, and look for ways to use their gifts in this world.