The Ovations Are Starting to Roll In for “Death of a Salesman”

An email just popped into my inbox from Eddie Jones.  Eddie has asked me to share the first review of Death of a Salesman with all of you.  It’s a great review.  If there is any way you can make it to one of his performances, I highly recommend that you go. 

Eddie Jones Shines in the Timeless Drama: Death of a Salesman
By Padma Sahgal

Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” brings back to the Westside theater, the angst, the desperation, the tragedy, and the hope in the life of Willy Loman. This is a powerful production – bound to make audiences stop and think – just as it did in 1949, when it first premiered on Broadway – about the proverbial American Dream and take stock of their own hopes and aspirations.

The test of a true classic, this story of a day in the life of an aging salesman is timeless, it’s about Everyman, anywhere on this planet.  Set in the middle of the last century, Loman returns home to Brooklyn after a failed business trip. He is sixty-one years old, desperate to make sense of his life. He has been taken off salary and put on straight commission. He is unable to support his loyal, suffering wife, or explain to his two grown sons why things went so wrong. He wants so much to help them to make a success of their own lives. He agonizes over whether he brought them up the right way. Set as foils to his failings, are his brother Ben, who reaped a fortune in the diamond mines in Africa, and Bernard, his neighbor’s son, who has become an attorney, while his sons – Bernard’s contemporaries, are still trying to find themselves.

Eddie Jones is a powerful Willy Loman. His portrayal is moving as he slips in and out of reality, with flashbacks and shares the ramblings of his mind. He has that rare rapport with his audience – only great actors are cabable of. It is obvious he comes from a rich and accomplished career that encompasses Broadway, film and television. Most recently he was seen as Marty Goldberg in the independent film, “Fighting Tommy Riley”.

Anne Gee Byrd is utterly natural as Linda, forever trying to cover up for her husband’s shortcomings, especially in the powerful monologue in which she defends Willy.

Aaron McPherson as Happy, Ivan Baccarat as Biff and Jeremy Shouldis as Bernard are altogether believable, each turning in a fine performance.  The award-winning director of the play, Bob Collins, has made the most of the intimate atmosphere of the Odyssey Theatre. The small stage seems to be the perfect setting for the “kitchen sink” drama. The audience becomes part of the very lives of the protagonists as they struggle to make sense of their existence. The past and the present time as it juxtaposes between scenes is masterfully executed.

The relevance of the play in today’s context is aptly summed up in Collins’ note to the audience, “We are all living under great myths. The Enron scandal is just one illustration of this. Like all great art, “Death of a Salesman” remains fresh because it stirs the humanity in all of us, and, as in all great art, its truths cannot go out of fashion”.

“Death of a Salesman” has a limited engagement at the Odyssey Theatre, located at 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd., through Dec. 15. Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m. For ticket information call 310-477-2055.

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