Willy Loman Is Lost, Still Looking for Stimulus Plan and Some Dignity CHARLES ISHERWOOD New York Times May 5, 2009
There are specifics in “Death of a Salesman” that would not seem to apply to the African-American experience in the middle of the 20th century. When Biff dreams happily of returning to Texas to become a rancher, it is jarring to ponder the potential fate of a young black man embarking on such an endeavor in 1949. It is easier to see beyond skin color in some plays than others. Unlike Williams, Miller was a social critic in his plays as well as a general observer of the moral failings universal in man. And revivals that cast classic plays entirely with black performers — and are thus not “color-blind” at all — can reasonably be viewed with race at least present in mind.
I suspect these issues would fade into irrelevance if Mr. Bundy’s production consistently transmitted the play’s ability to move us time and again with its depiction of a man who has got by for so long on self-deceptions and ethical equivocations that he has not noticed how they have poisoned his life. But the tentative or unfocused stretches in Mr. Dutton’s performance are matched by similar weaknesses among the supporting players.