Review: Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, $18-$20. The Actor’s Workshop of Sacramento, California Stage Theater, 1721 25th Street, $18-$20. (916) 501-6104, Through October 16.
Rated 5.0

Death of a Salesman feels as timely today as it did when Arthur Miller wrote his Pulitzer-Prize-winning play in 1949. Yes, some of the references are dated, such as the job of a traveling salesman or the dutiful housewife trying to placate a husband and sons. But the concept of the American Dream deferred, where the main character Willy Loman feels that life has unfairly passed him by and rewarded the undeserved, leaving him bitter and angry, are ideas that still resonate—especially in this election cycle.

With this production, Ed Claudio, founder of The Actor’s Workshop of Sacramento, seems to be fulfilling a dream of his own: staging and starring once again in his all-time favorite play. It’s a wise choice—Claudio is captivating as he embodies Willy, bringing pathos, sadness and fatigue to the role, capturing Willy as a man who has dreamed of the perfect life attained by hard work, charm and perseverance, but one that’s also swimming in a sea of self-delusion.

On stage, Claudio surrounds himself with a solid supporting cast, especially Laura Luke as his weary, worried wife, Matt Fairall as his stalled-in-life son Biff and Kevin Frame as the peacemaking son Happy. Director Eason Donner keeps the lengthy play’s pace tight, and the actions and emotions in check, while the lighting, tiered-set and costumes capture both the era and sliding despair of Willy Loman.