Rebirth of a ‘Salesman’

Willy Loman (Philip Seymour Hoffman) tries to restructure his family, Biff (Andrew Garfield), Happy (Finn Wittrock) and Linda (Linda Emond).

It’s obvious as the curtain rises to reveal the familiar, skeletal silhouette of the Loman household first dreamt by designer Jo Mielziner in 1949: Instead of testing tricks of modern metaphor, this production wisely settles on traditionalism.

But there’s beauty building beyond the familiarity of the set or the known colloquial lyricism of the script, in the introspective and interpersonal spaces between. It’s the way one’s eyes glance aside, or another’s weight shifts from heel to heel, that is this show’s greatest spectacle. It’s most effective when the characters turn these fond, honest touches and glances on each other – while they lie, blame and coerce from the same fount of love.

Main stages lately have been dedicated to the lives of the elite, but “Salesman” brings us back to our modesty. Compared to, say, “Other Desert Cities,” with its stiffness and practiced expressions, this feels like theater not only from another time, but from another world, rather than two streets north. Just before the closing curtain, there’s a quiet moment in the show’s controversial epilogue. It’s underscored by the crying noises from both men and women in their seats and the rustle of belongings put aside to stand for the forthcoming ovation. We haven’t heard this kind of call-and-response since “The Normal Heart.”

Discovering that Philip Seymour Hoffman is not the show’s brightest star is almost akin to the titular salesman he plays learning that his type is a dime a dozen. It’s instead an acting coup for Andrew Garfield, who is fastidious in his progressive dissection of the man’s eldest son. Although it’s harder to see in the first act, where Garfield is just scrubbing in, the second act shows him plunging his hands deeply and fearlessly into the chest of this character to pull out and show us what he’s made of – in a language today’s Boomers and Millenials alike can understand. Countless men have seen their fathers in previous Willy Lomans; thanks to Garfield, they can face whether or not they find themselves in Biff. Even the outstanding Linda Emond, as the family’s long-suffering matriarch, can’t quite cast a shade like the theatrically inclined Garfield. We hope to see more of him on the stage, though it’s hard to imagine what could follow a scene-stealing turn in a brilliant revival of “Death of a Salesman.”

‘Death of a Salesman’
Barrymore Theatre
243 W. 47th St.
$47-$142; 212-239-6200
www.deathofasalesmanbroadway.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Girl, 10, dies after being pulled from water…

A 10-year-old girl died after being pulled from the waters off Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, police said.

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 7,…

Drunk girls and ghost brownies: here’s your weekly ‘Pretty Little Liars’ recap by way of Q&A. Q: do they really not check for feet under…

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.