DEATH OF A SALESMAN (GoKash): What happens to a dream deferred

“There is no future for a people who deny their past. My Foreparents, My Grandparents, My Mother, My Father did not suffer and die to give me an education to slight, oppress or discourage my people. Whatsoever education I acquired out of their sacrifice of over 300 years, I shall use for the salvation of the 400 million Black people of the world. And the DAY when I forsake my people; may GOD Almighty say, “there shall be no more life for you”.
—Marcus Garvey

Kash Goins stars as Willy Loman in DEATH OF A SALESMAN. (Photo credit: Katie Balun)
Kash Goins stars as Willy Loman in DEATH OF A SALESMAN. (Photo credit: Katie Balun)

Arthur Miller’s DEATH OF A SALESMAN is a “Great American Play”. A story of a family’s delusion and disillusion with the American Dream, it is a tale that would seem to cross the nation’s cultural boundaries. GoKash Productions proves that this is the case with a compelling all-black version.

Kash Goins stars as Willy Loman, a weary travelling salesman riddled with regret and lost in memories of the past and delusions about the present. Goins communicates Loman’s anguish, instability, and misguided hope in an enthralling, powerful performance.

In an otherwise uneven cast, Eric Carter and Carlo Campbell interact well as the wayward and womanizing Loman sons, respectively. Monroe Barrick provides foil for Willy as his patient, more successful neighbor Charley. But Goins acts an irresistible anchor: his anger never far from the surface, his desperation tangible, his attempts at charismatic salesmanship painful and true.

Director Ozzie Jones‘s use of recording from Pan-African political leader Marcus Garvey and selections of jazz and African music frame Willy’s torment. Jones sees the Loman family’s struggles as a metaphor for African American history. The conceit adds depth and meaning to the script, and the alteration aligns perfectly with the play’s tone, never more so than in the ironic final lines, spoken by sobbing wife Linda (Tamara Woods): “We’re free and clear, we’re free…” This is a thoroughly resonant DEATH OF A SALESMAN. [Plays and Players, 1714 Delancey Street] July 30-August 17, 2014,

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