Death of a Salesman
Woodland Opera House Theatre340 Second St.
Woodland, CA 95695
Fading salesman Willy Loman is an iconic role for older actors. And we’ve seen some good Lomans locally: Loren Taylor at River Stage in ’96, and Tom McCauley at UC Davis last year.Add to that distinguished list Patrick Murphy, a CSUS grad, way back, who “retired back home” to Sacramento about a year ago.
Murphy gives us the tired, pathetic guy returning from a fruitless trip—but he also locates the small, positive aspects that make Willy’s wife’s devotion to him credible. That, in turn, gives moral grounding to the wife’s lectures to her sons, begging them to help their faltering father. And morality is what Arthur Miller’s script is all about.
Don’t get us wrong—Murphy’s Willy is still deluding himself and living lies (both past and present). But you sense that he’s worth saving. Which makes neighbor Charley’s little loans and quiet job offer sensible—and the ending all the more tragic. Director Dean Shellenberger brings it home.
This American classic from 1949, still intense, also glows in the historic context of the Woodland Opera House, built in the 1890s.