In the director’s notes Simon Stone admits this production wouldn’t have worked without Colin Friels in the role of Willy Loman. But even an extraordinary actor like Friels can’t save this version of the Arthur Miller classic. The rest of the cast are a fine set of actors with proven talents, so the problems largely hinge on Stone’s direction and how he set the story.
Putting an American play into an Australian context can work, but in this case it doesn’t. Why refer to a Studebaker and have a Holden Commodore on stage and then have Biff pass a gridiron football instead of an AFL footy? It’s nonsensical. Due to these types of decisions this production is confused and boring. The overall tension and drama of the story gets lost making it very difficult to connect with any of the characters or care about their plight.
The use of the Belvoir Street stage is also strange and clumsy with most of the action obscured by Willy’s car. The choice to have minimal lighting changes and a single set also add to the bland nature of this production, instead of creating a sense of isolation. Stone and Belvoir are lucky this production sold out well before it opened.
Until Aug 19, Belvoir Street, Upstairs Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills, $29-62, 9699 3444, belvoir.com.au