“Death of a Salesman,” Arthur Miller’s riveting drama about a hardworking salesman who believes in the elusive and  evasive American dream, who ultimately becomes engulfed in a harrowing nightmare instead.

Willy Loman’s devotion and dedication to work hard … doesn’t pan out.

Dwight Martin plays Loman in Manoa Valley Theatre’s latest revival of the work, and Martin is splendid and credible and hits all the right notes. He makes you feel his passion and his agony. His quest to achieve is commendable, but his  American dream lacks a streak of reality; desire is only part of the equation. 

The script reflects a dysfunctional and contentious family on the brink of losing everything Willy lives for and dreams of. Thus, it’s a tragedy.

Wife Linda Loman (Amy K. Sullivan, very effusive) is a supporter and cheerleader of Willy, who brings home the bacon. She nudges sons Biff Loman (Matthew Miller, who tries hard but fails to achieve), a high school dropout and uncertain of a job yet,  and Happy Loman (Thomas T.C. Smith), who lives up to his character’s name, a bit more settled with a gig in a business venture to try to do good.

The fact that the lads are in their 30s and living at home after being away is an indication of another family issue, of finances and space. It’s a familiar situation in real life, so there are  truthful pangs and pathos in some of the laments in the Loman household.

The Lomans, from left: Matthew Miller as Biff, Dwight Martin as Willy, Amy K. Sullivan as Linda, and Thomas T.C. Smith as Happy.

The Lomans are residing in Boston, as the play unfolds in the 1940s,  and Willy – getting on his years, loyal to the core to his job but tired of the lonely and dangerous commutes –pleads to his boss Howard (Dan Connell, unsympathetic)  for a more stable work environment in the main office in New York. Instead, Willy is fired, dashing his hope and diminishing his worth.

He confesses to his wife that he often drives his car off the road, an accident waiting to happen. It’s not a spoiler, when “death” is in the title of the play.

Willy’s deterioration is painful to watch. He loses confidence, and his sanity is a slippery slope, since his mind is going, too, and the  meagre money he makes is gobbled up by bills he can’t afford to pay, and worst of all, he loses his dignity.

Tolerant and supportive early on, Linda eventually becomes part of the family bickering and shout-outs because Willy is off the charts himself. Depression becomes his middle name.

It’s hurtful to witness and accept his obsolescence, knowing his shining luster in early days has turned into unconscionable rust. Domestically, he feuds with his wife and kids, and a family at war is destined to implode. And Biff, who boasts he can handily land a job, doesn’t, which means Willy isn’t the sole failure.

Director Linda Johnson projects familial bonding with warmth and spirit, but as the friction and fall-outs mount, the pace is somewhat choreographic, moving around Michelle A. Bisbee’s functional, minimalist set (downstairs kitchen, with simple sets of tables and chairs). The home has upstairs bedrooms, but this is a home without a comfy sofa

Lighting by Janine Myers and sound by Sarah Velasco are conservative, suiting the unfancy setting; costumes by Kanani Sato and hair and makeup by Lisa Ponce de Leon maintain simplicity with no hints of the ‘40s.

A disclosure: The themes of mental health and suicide depicted in the play may be tough to experience, so be forewarned; however, due to the era, neither dementia nor Alzheimer’s are mentioned in the script…

‘Death of a Salesman’

A drama by Arthur Miller, which can be described as a tragedy, about a luckless salesman getting on in his years, who dreams the American dream, which eludes him.

Where: Manoa Valley Theatre.

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, extended through June 9; add-on performances are at 7:30 p.m. June 8 and 3 p.m. June 9.

Tickets: $25 to $46, at (808) 988-6131.

Broadway grosses, week ending May 26

Two long-running musicals perched at the top of the weekly compilation of Broadway musicals, three recent arrivals have found their places as future contenders.,

The Top 10:

1—”The Lion King,” $2,220 million.

2—“Wicked,” $2,003 million.

3—“Hamilton,” $1,801 million.

4—“Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club,” $1,721 million.

5—“Merrily We Roll Along,” $1,612 million.

6—“Hell’s Kitchen,” $1,554 million.

7—“MJ, the Musical,” $1,500 million.

8—“The Wiz,” $1,475 million.

9—“Aladdin,” $1,356 million.

10—“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” $1,222 million.

The complete list, courtesy the Broadway Guild:

And that’s Show Biz…

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