As the title suggests, “Death of a Salesman” isn’t exactly feel good theater, but the Lyric Stage Company’s current production of the 65-year old Arthur Miller classic is definitely worthy of the slow and steady emotional journey it takes through the heart of human vulnerability and pain.
Director Spiro Veloudos steers clear of the script’s potential for melodrama in this subtle, yet powerful retelling of the ill-fated Loman family. There’s a truth to these characters that almost defies pity, giving you a clear picture of the havoc wreaked by their own egos and false pride.
The lack of self-victimization by Ken Baltin’s Willy makes his pain and frustration incredibly authentic. While his struggles leave you on the verge of tears, his blatant denial of reality makes you want to smack some sense into him. Baltin is at his best when accepting help, but refusing work from his uber-successful brother Charley, played with refreshing zeal by Larry Coen.
Paula Plum is wonderfully staid and understated as Linda, the woman who’s watched the life and dreams get kicked out of her idyllic American family in the flash of a lifetime. Plum, like Baltin, never plays the blame game, instead imbuing her character with a fettered sense of personal responsibility.
Coen brings much-needed levity to the morose feel of the piece with an almost Donald Trump-like Charley. Victor Shopov’s impressive transition from young, bullied Bernard to the great American success story is another of the show’s finer performances.
While it’s still the same gut-wrenching story with the same tragic ending, this “Death of a Salesman” is refreshingly unlike any others you may have seen.
'Death of a Salesman' Through March 15th Lyric Stage 140 Clarendon St., Boston $25 - $61, 617-585-5678 www.lyricstage.com