DEATH OF A SALESMAN (Curio): Bringing Arthur Miller to life

Aaron Kirkpatrick and Paul Kuhn in DEATH OF A SALESMAN. ​ Photo by Rebecca Gudelunas

Aaron Kirkpatrick and Paul Kuhn in DEATH OF A SALESMAN. ​
Photo by Rebecca Gudelunas

DEATH OF A SALESMAN, a twentieth century American classic, is Arthur Miller at his best. Following the lives of the Loman family in 1940s Brooklyn, this Pulitzer- and Tony- winning tragedy is as entertaining as it is introspective. And Curio Theatre Company’s production of it, directed by Barrymore Award winner Dan Hodge, does Miller justice.

A pillar of Curio Theatre Company’s mission is to develop artistic talent through ensemble, and their production of DEATH OF A SALESMAN demonstrates how successful an ensemble can be—even in a play with characters as emblematic as the Lomans. Curio’s production underscores the delusion and the rawness of the lives of this family.

 

As the title suggests, this is a tragedy, though with Hodge’s skillful direction, the love the family has for each other becomes increasingly apparent—a love that heightens the tragedy of what happens when delusion overshadows reality.

“I’m interested in finding how the stories and lies that the Lomans tell themselves come from a place of love rather than delusion,” explains Hodge. “If the stories began as encouragement or game playing then we can see how even affectionate gestures can grow into destructive forces.”

Gay Carducci as Linda Loman.  ​​Photo by Rebecca Gudelunas.

Gay Carducci as Linda Loman. ​​Photo by Rebecca Gudelunas.

The story follows the unraveling of Willy Loman, masterfully portrayed by Paul Kuhn, whose interpretation of this antihero elicits sympathy (and tears).  The other family members include Aaron Kirkpatrick as Biff, Chase Byrd as Hap, and Curio’s managing director Gay Carducci as Linda (the mother)—all of whom deliver powerful performances.

Brian McCann, Colleen Hughes, and Robert DaPonte complete the talented ensemble and provide some much needed comedic relief.  A performance of note is McCann’s instantaneous transition between two distinct roles (Charlie and Uncle Ben) with little more than additional lighting for theatrical effect.

Tim Martin’s stellar lighting design discerns flashback from storyline as the stories within the story unravel quickly. Kyle Yackoski’s nuanced sound design also heightens the drama.

The set, designed by Steven Hungerford, and costumes by Aetna Gallagher bring the audience right into Miller’s 1940s setting.  That said, this timeless story is as relevant now as it was at its Broadway debut in 1949, and this production is a must-see for Philadelphia audiences.

[4740 Baltimore Avenue] February 4-March 5, 2016; curiotheartre.org.

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Rachel Dukeman

Rachel Dukeman believes that everyone can be their own boss through entrepreneurship, mindfulness, and efficient leadership. She combines these values with a passion for arts, culture and social impact by drafting marketing and strategic plans for mission-driven organizations. Rachel is the Founder and Lead Strategist at R&R Creative, LLC and can be reached at RDukeman@rrcreativegroup.com.