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

Apple says its systems not to blame for…

By Edwin Chan and Christina FarrSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The week before a crucial launch of its new iPhone, Apple Inc said intimate photos of…

Local

Tallest residential building planned for lower Manhattan

A residential tower planned for lower Manhattan will soar 1,356 feet in the air -- just 12 feet shy of 1 World Trade Center. When…

Local

Bronx man commits suicide by decapitation

A Bronx man committed suicide Monday morning in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx by decapitating himself. According to the NYPD, the 51-year-old man…

Local

Top cops enroll in Twitter course at John…

NYPD officers are reportedly getting a lesson on the best way to use 140 characters or less. The New York Post reported Tuesday top officers…

Arts

Pop culture and prostitutes: New Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at…

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec documented the cult of celebrity and the rise of pop entertainment in his prints, posters and lithographs — now on display at MoMA.

Arts

PHOTO: Extreme artist Eskil Ronningsbakken balances unicycle on…

Extreme artist’ Eskil Ronningsbakken balances on the edge of a cliff face at 4,600 feet – on a unicycle. The Norwegian travels across the globe, balancing over vertiginous ravines, tall…

Music

Hear two previously unreleased Adele songs

Missing some Adele in your life? Two previously unreleased songs from the singer have appeared online.

Music

Lincoln Center just made 'Lord of the Rings'…

Middle Earth already has sweeping vistas, a hero's journey and technology-revolutionizing special effects. But next April, the Lincoln Center will add another dimension to Peter Jackson's…

NFL

10 storylines to watch for the Giants this…

The Giants rebounded from an embarrassing 0-6 start last season, but not well enough to make the playoffs.

NFL

Michael Vick set to be weekly guest with…

Mike Francesa may need to backtrack from his harsh commentary of Michael Vick now that the Jets backup quarterback will be a weekly guest on his show.

NFL

Jets expect to make playoffs after sitting on…

The same pundits who predicted the Jets would be woeful a season ago are now eying the playoffs for this revamped team.

NFL

Antonio Allen returns to practice after concussion

Antonio Allen was cleared to practice again following his concussion two weeks ago.

Parenting

In defense of making a mess during playtime

"Recipes for Play" authors Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener think playtime should involve the five senses and making a mess is part of the fun.

Wellbeing

Jason Hope helps push anti-aging efforts forward

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article When it comes to age-related illness, the direction of modern medicine seems more reactive than proactive. In…

Wellbeing

Today's Doomsday preppers: a closer look at survivalist…

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. The term “Doomsday prepper” is often associated with the paranoid, anti-government stereotype of the 1990s. The truth…

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…