AISLE SAY San Francisco


by Arthur Miller
Directed by Kenneth Kelleher
Presented by San Jose Stage Company
The Stage
490 S. First St., San Jose, CA / (408) 283-7142

Reviewed by Judy Richter

After years on the road as a traveling salesman, 60-year-old Willy Loman is exhausted, yet he continues to dream big, perhaps fooling only himself.

Willy (Randall King) is the title character in Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning American classic, "Death of a Salesman," presented by San Jose Stage Company.

Willy lives in New York with his loyal, loving wife, Linda (Lucinda Hitchcock Cone), but his territory is in New England, requiring lots of travel and days away from home.

As the play opens, his two sons, 34-year-old Biff (Danny Jones), and the younger Happy (Jeffrey Brian Adams), are visiting for some time. Neither has successfully found himself. Biff and Willy continually clash even though -- as seen in flashbacks to the boys' high school days -- both Biff and Happy once adored their father.

Willy is inspired by memories of his older brother, Ben (Kevin Blackton), who took chances and made a fortune. Also playing roles in Willy's life are his neighbor and friend, Charley (Michael Bellino); Charley's bright son, Bernard (Joey Pisacane); and Willy's young boss, Howard Wagner (Will Springhorn Jr.).

Although the play focuses on Willy and his problems, it also looks closely at Biff as he tries to resolve his feelings about Willy, especially after a shattering discovery when Biff was still in high school.

As directed by Kenneth Kelleher, this production features fine acting from not only the principals but also from secondary and minor characters. Kudos especially to King's Willy and to Cone's Linda, who has some of the play's most memorable, wrenching speeches.

Aided by projections, Giulio Cesare Perrone has designed a versatile set enhanced by Maurice Vercoutere's lighting and Tanya Finkelstein's costumes. However, the almost omnipresent music and sound by Cliff Caruthers, apparently meant to heighten the drama, become obtrusive, as if he and director Kelleher didn't trust the power of Miller's writing.

The two-act play runs about two hours and 40 minutes with one intermission. Written in 1949, it raises human concerns that are as profound today as they were then. This production reflects that relevance.

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