Davidson Community Players: “Death of a Salesman” Really Never Dies, a Review by Connie Fisher
If the first two plays of Davidson Community Players 2022 season are any indication of the dramatic excellence they plan to produce this year, we are in for a treat of brilliant theatrical pleasure.
A mere two weeks after the company closed a whopping three-weekend run of its season opener, [proof], an amazing troupe of actors is delivering the gripping emotions of theatre’s all-time classic, Death of a Salesman.
Death of a Salesman is powerful. The award-winning tragedy comprises playwright Arthur Miller’s desire to dramatize the inner workings of the human mind, while also allowing him to concurrently treat the essence of time. And the Davidson Community Players production of the drama captures some powerful renditions of humanity’s reflective and moving emotions.
It is wonderful to see some new faces on the Armour Street Theatre stage. Nearly every member of the cast Director Marla Brown selected is performing on Davidson’s mainstage for the first time. Most of the actors, however, are seasoned performers and it shows. Bravo! Marla has a knack to seamlessly intertwine the talent of polished artists with the skills of emerging thespians to effectively deliver the emotions and characteristics of the people they portray.
Miller’s story about the fading salesman, Willy Loman, could be someone from any walk of life. Undoubtedly, we all might recognize a foible of Willy’s nature in someone we have always known.
Tim Bradley’s portrayal of Willy is magnificent. Tim’s vacillations between Willy’s reality and the innermost emotions of his dwindling life are heart wrenching. At times, both pitiful and moving. Tim Bradley deserves a standing ovation!
Karen Lico’s performance as Willy’s loyal, doting wife, Linda, is astonishing. At first, Karen appears to be insecure in her role, even hard to hear, at times. Then she grows into a stalwart matron, particularly during the scene where Linda admonishes her adult sons about their attitude toward their father. “I will not have him falling into his grave like an old dog,” she contends.
The Loman boys are Happy, played by Brandon Samples and Biff, portrayed by Dominic Weaver.
Brandon is a natural playing Happy, Willy’s womanizing, playful, happy-go-lucky son. Brandon plays his character with enthusiasm—forcefully at times, haphazardly, congenial, but, perennially in the shadow of brother, Biff.
Dominic is a powerhouse as Biff. Once an heir-apparent to stardom as the high school football star, Biff falters in life, but not in the eyes of his father who consistently revels in his son’s
former glory. Dominic’s performance is energetic—there were times I feared he might even release a primed football all the way to the back of the house. Yet, Biff also is a realist and Dominic delivers his misgivings with such tearful emotions, they rip across the heart.
Charley, the Brooklyn neighbor, aptly played by Robert Coppel, could be Willy Loman’s pawn. But Charley is a generous, wise, and sympathetic friend, noting, “no one’s worth nothing when dead.”
Willy’s brother Ben is portrayed by the elegant figure of Thom McKinney. Although Ben is Willy’s long forgotten older brother, he also represents a father figure and even Willy’s alter-ego. Calmly, Thom gives a convincing portrayal of his legendary character with unquestionable sense of dignity.
With the help of Assistant Director Koula Black, Marla Brown was brilliant with her selection of Death of a Salesman’s cast. All the actors fit into their roles so well, including Aaron Zimmerman as Howard, Tony Pasero as Bernard, Rigo Nova as Stanley, Lauren Newell as the hilarious Woman and Angela Jacobs as the sexy Miss Forsythe.
The cleverly designed thrust stage that reaches into the audience is another genial component of DCPs Death of a Salesman production. Set designer Ben Pierce created several open levels where the scenes realistically are played.
The main room of the house leads to the boys’ bedroom upstairs. The thrust component comprises a patio or outside porch with a “cement” entry below. Side walls instead of stage curtains would have enhanced the production. Nevertheless, the set really is handsome and quite effective.
Well done, Davidson Community Players. It’s delightful to see that a classic drama can remain so alive and effective, even after it’s Tony Award opening on Broadway more than seventy years ago.
Recommended for ages 12 and up.