Compelling “Death of a Salesman” at Ruskin Group Theatre

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By Wilfred M. Phillips Jr.

An impressive 70th anniversary revival of Arthur Miller’s classic play, “Death of a Salesman,” is now running at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica. Winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and a Tony award for “Best Play,” this story stays strikingly relevant in our times.

Illuminating the blue-ribbon acting skills of Rob Morrow, portraying Willy Loman, director Mike Reilly helms a top-notch production that provides comedy, drama, and emotional sadness. Morrow magnetizes the audience with his demeanor, facial expressions, body language, and spontaneous outbursts. Actress, Lee Garlington, as Linda Loman, gives an outstanding performance in her role as Willy’s devoted wife. Robert Adamson (Biff) and Dylan Rourke (Happy) bring out the true meaning of brotherhood and the everyday malfunctions of a highly dysfunctional family.

Dylan Rourke and Robert Adamson – Photo by Ed Krieger

Burdened by financial responsibilities and living on the edge of poverty, Willy Loman’s “American Dream” is slipping through his grasp as he continues to believe that he is on the verge of a “big break.”

Mike Reilly (the director) explains, “the Loman family struggles with the same social, economic and environmental pressures that we seem to keep experiencing in our own lives. Unchecked development and expansion, the urge to keep up with our neighbor’s luxury and convenience purchases, a need to keep up appearances, and a deep anxiety over our children’s prospects for their futures. It’s all so ever-present in our American culture that we may not even notice. Yet, at the center of this story is the deeply personal human tragedy of Willy Loman and his family. What could be more needed today than a story that gives voice to our living experience in such a powerful way?

Robert Adamson, Dylan Rourke, Emily Anna Bell, and Sara Young Chandler – Photo by Ed Krieger

The stage settings, lighting, and musical interludes expertly mark the changes of scenes while transporting the audience back in time, and then forward again to the present. The sound of flutes playing in the background throughout the performance set the mood and emotions in several of the scenes.

Kudos to the cast members for their flawless performances. The efficient delivery of Miller’s monologues keeps this story believable, especially at the emotional ending.

Lee Garlington, Rob Morrow, Robert Adamson, and Dylan Rourke – Photo by Ed Krieger

I give 5 (out of five) stars to Director Mike Reilly, the stage crew and the actors for making Arthur Miller’s classic come so compellingly alive once again.

When: “Death of a Salesman” runs Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm through August 4, 2019 (No performances July 12 – 14).

Where: Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405. 

Tickets: $25 – $35 and can be purchased in advance by calling (310) 397-3244 or online at www.ruskingrouptheatre.com

Free parking available on site.