Review: Death of a Salesman

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Nashville Rep's "Death of a Salesman" is an exquisite experience of American theater, running March 14 - 28 at TPAC's Johnson Theater.

Nashville Rep presents:
Death of a Salesman (March 14 – 28; Ages 12 and older)
TPAC’s Johnson Theater
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 • nashvillerep.org
Show times: Tue – Thu 6:30 p.m., Fri 7:30 p.m., Sat 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $47.50

An intense, powerful and exquisite production of a true classic of American theater awaits your family during Nashville Rep’s run of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Miller’s 1949 work won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. The masterful work has seen four Broadway revivals, picking up three additional Tony Awards for Best Revival along the way.

With the main central theme of Death of a Salesman being that of the American dream, you might wonder if this is a show that still resonates in the 21st century. It does, in fact, because so many elements comprise the ideals of that theme when you take into consideration all of the things plaguing the mind of the story’s central character, Willy Loman (Chip Arnold) — a struggle to be successful (and what defines success, anyway?), family relationships, materialism and the perception of others in regard to oneself. One of the more daunting realities of the play’s tragic story arc is Loman’s own disbelief in his failures to the point of lying about his success as well as that of his eldest son, Biff (Eric D. Pasto-Crosby). One of the more emotionally haunting revelations in the play is Loman’s refusal to accept the truth.

Nashville stage veteran Chip Arnold has brought many powerful performances to roles on local stages with several companies including Nashville Rep, Studio Tenn, People’s Branch Theatre, Nashville Children’s Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival and more. Known for his unforgettable roles, this current one is perhaps his most notable achievement of talent to date. His delivery of Willy Loman is emotionally gripping and believable to the point that audience members feel the torment happening inside Loman’s mind. What’s more, the audience develops a real sense of compassion for Loman and feels the intensity of his plight (as well as the other key characters), and that’s what makes great theater truly exceptional — creating a sense of reality on stage that undoubtedly makes the audience feel a strong emotional tug.

Death of a Salesman Nashville Rep

The main cast of Nashville Rep’s “Death of a Salesman,” from left to right: Rona Carter (Linda Loman), Eric D. Pasto-Crosby (Biff), Matt Garner (Happy) and Chip Arnold (Willy Loman). Rene Copeland directs the Arthur Miller play.

Eric D. Pasto-Crosby’s role as Biff is a pivotal one in Miller’s story, as the eldest son is the only one who faces the truth by realizing that the whole family has lived in lies. Pasto-Crosby also gives a strong, emotionally charged performance throughout the production. Likewise, Rona Carter shines in her role as Linda Loman, the tormented wife and mother who is caught in the middle of the family’s struggle trying to keep the peace with secrets of her own.

Keeping in mind how much of the drama playing out on stage happens via flashbacks inside Willy Loman’s mind, Gary Hoff’s set design perfectly picks up on the various angles and off-kilter balance therein.

Even if you’ve seen numerous productions of Death of a Salesman before, Nashville Rep’s phenomenal production, directed by Rene Copeland, will surely give you something new to experience and think about afterward.

 

 

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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