Theatre / Feature

All you need to know about Death of a Salesman

Arthur Miller’s classic play is as relevant as ever 70 years on.

First written in 1949, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is often regarded as one of the greatest plays of all time – and its relevance is still palpable in 2019. Co-directors Miranda Cromwell and Marianne Elliot (Company, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Angels in America) and their impressive and diverse cast breathe new life into the traditional and revered play.

After a sell-out run at the Young Vic, it has now been announced the play will be arriving in the West End’s Piccadilly Theatre. Ahead of its transfer, here’s all you need to know about Death of a Salesman.


What is Death of a Salesman about?

The play follows failing salesman Willy Loman over the course of 24 hours of his life, during which we see the familial and financial struggles that plague him.

A story that touches on hubris, identity and denial, Death of a Salesman is a devastating glimpse into one man’s obsession with the American Dream, and how it impacts him and those around him.


Who stars in Death of a Salesman?

The tortured Willy Loman is portrayed by Wendell Pierce in his London stage debut, with previous credits including The Wire, Suits and Selma. His wife Linda Loman is played by West End legend and Olivier-Award winner Sharon D. Clarke, who has been impressing audiences for decades in shows such as Hairspray, Ghost the Musical, The Lion King, and Caroline, or Change.

The rest of the cast for the West End transfer is due to be announced soon.


What can audiences expect from Death of a Salesman?

It is rare for a play to be thought-provoking, amusing and crushing in equal measure; but with a tight script, poignant acting and themes as fundamental as they are, Death of a Salesman perfects the balance of dark and light. Humour is used perfectly, creating an almost guilt-inducing juxtaposition of laughing at a quip, only to be immediately reminded of a man at the edge.

Minimalistic staging makes the dialogue the star of the show, and lighting is used perfectly to transport us elsewhere in some of the plays most affecting moments.

The addition of music not only creates a moving atmosphere but in many instances acts as a vehicle for further character expression. Cromwell and Elliot’s direction is a masterclass in subtlety; without feeling the need to be overt about the connections between past and present, they allow audiences to do this for themselves. For example, the decision for the Loman family to be black is not explicitly referenced but adds further nuance to the play and its characters.

Whether you are an Arthur Miller purist or experiencing the play for the first time, this interpretation of Death of a Salesman will not disappoint – but it may leave you pondering some of life’s great questions.

Last year we caught up with Marianne Elliott to discover more about her career. Read our interview here.


What are the critics saying?

★★★★★ “A fresh revival of an old great” – The Times
★★★★★ “Fresh, compassionate and ultimately devastating” – Evening Standard
★★★★★ “This superb production is a revelation” – Financial Times
★★★★★ “Brilliantly reimagined. Powered by a phenomenal cast. Stunning” – Time Out
★★★★★ “A vital, truthful and vivid production and the latest surefire hit from this remarkable team” – WhatsOnStage


What else do I need to know?

The show transfers to the Piccadilly Theatre from 24 Oct 2019 until 4 Jan 2020. The running time is approximately 3 hours including an interval.


Tickets for the West End transfer of Death of a Salesman are on sale now. Get yours through Ticketmaster.co.uk.

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