Death of a Salesman played in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 2015, marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Arthur Miller.
About this production
Antony Sher and Alex Hassell played Willy Loman and his son Biff. They were joined by Harriet Walter as Willy's loyal wife Linda. Directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran, this production celebrated the centenary of Miller's birth and played in Stratford-upon-Avon and London during 2015.
Tobias Beer - Howard Wagner
Paul Birchard - Older Waiter
Helen Grady - Jenny
Ross Green - Stanley
Alex Hassell (pictured) - Biff Loman
Emma King - Miss Forsyth
Sam Marks - Happy Loman
Miranda Nolan - Letta
Sarah Parks - The Woman
Guy Paul - Uncle Ben
Joshua Richards - Charley
Brodie Ross - Bernard
Antony Sher - Willy Loman
Harriet Walter - Linda Loman
Director - Gregory Doran
Designer - Stephen Brimson Lewis
Lighting - Tim Mitchell
Music - Paul Englishby
Sound - Jonathan Ruddick
The story of Death of a Salesman
Willy Loman is a travelling salesman, nearing retirement. In the opening scene, he returns late at night, from a failed business trip. His devoted wife Linda worries about him, fearing he has crashed his car.
Seeing that her husband is no longer able to travel, Linda suggests that Willy ask his boss, Howard, to let him work in the office in New York rather than travel.
The Loman brothers
Linda's two sons, Biff and Happy, have come home. Happy claims he is successful in his retail job in New York, whereas Biff, who works in the west as a farmhand, feels his life is getting nowhere. They make grand plans to set up a business together.
Later in the evening, Willy remembers a happier time when his sons were teenagers, remembering Biff going out to a football match and cleaning his car. He briefly remembers a Woman, laughing with her and kissing her. He remembers his successful brother. He speaks to these people as though they are there, so loudly that he wakes the household.
Mother and sons
Linda sits with her sons in the kitchen as Willy goes to bed, and reveals that Willy has had his salary taken away and now only works on commission. She tells them of Willy's recent suicide attempts and accuses Biff of being the cause of Willy's unhappiness. When Willy comes in, he and Biff argue, but Biff tells Willy he plans to see Bill Oliver in the morning, a sporting goods retailer who Biff once worked for. Biff thinks Oliver will give him a business loan, which excites Willy.
The next day
Willy goes to see his boss to ask to be taken off the road, but he is fired instead. He retreats into memories of happier times, while he travels to his neighbours office to ask for a loan.
Biff and Happy are waiting at a restaurant for Willy. Biff tells Happy that he didn't manage to get a loan, and realises he was deluded to think Bill Oliver would remember him from years ago. In a fit of frustration Biff stole Oliver's fountain pen. When Willy arrives, Biff struggles to explain what happened.
Willy drifts into the past again, remembering when Biff discovered him having an affair. While he is distracted by the past, his sons leave the restaurant with two women, leaving him there.
Biff and Happy return home – Linda is furious with them. Willy is outside, planting seeds in his garden in the dark. Biff brings him in and, finally, tries to force the family to realise they are living in a world of dreams, lies and fantasies. Willy seems to realise that Biff loves him – but tragically this only reinforces his determination to make Biff a success. He kills himself, thinking that Biff can start a business with the money from his life insurance.