Making the Hard Sell: Fun House Theatre’s “Death of A Salesman”

Death of A Salesman: Jeff Swearingen, Kennedy Waterman, Chris Rodenbaugh, Tex Patrello

Death of A Salesman: Jeff Swearingen, Kennedy Waterman, Tex Patrello, Chris Rodenbaugh

Fun House Theatre and Film. Would Willy Loman approve? I should hope so. Anybody who mounts a production of a prestigious, iconic three-act drama like Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman takes on a sales job of imposing proportion. “The play’s a downer.” “It goes on FOREVER.” “Why can’t we see something funny?” Sometimes you just need to get out there and explore the hard, bleak, poignant side of humanity. The dark side, that’s right. Death of A Salesman, the play, offers a searing look at the essential American tragedy of American Dream smashed to bits and how love and family ties aren’t strong enough to reassemble the broken shards. At Fun House, the play gets the expressive, fully realized treatment it merits.

Want a pair of free tickets? I have some. Contact me on Facebook.

In its current incarnation at Fun House Theatre in Plano TX, running through this coming Saturday night 11/21, regional top drawer director Susan Sargeant has coaxed the finest performance I have seen to date out of the always exemplary youth ensemble. Focused intention and a degree of ensemble interaction exist in balance that many, most, adult ensembles only achieve occasionally. It can leave you breathless to watch the taut tale unfold, given the pinpointed energy emanating from the stage at all times. Artistic Director Jeff Swearingen, respected region-wide for his comic chops, plays Willy with such seething desperation and honest resignation you will forget his defining comic turns. Here he is one serious drama dude. As Linda, Willy’s wife, teen acting sensation Kennedy Waterman (Harbor at Uptown Players most recently) brings her unique intensity and stillness to the role, matching Swearingen’s maturity and experience with a demeanor of chill defeat, pathos and gravitas hard to imagine in a teen actor. More powerful than most adult actors. As the brothers Biff and Happy, Willy and Linda’s sons, Chris Rodenbaugh and Tex Patrello define each character independently with style and confidence while “feeling” like brothers in mannerism and easy rapport. Lesser characters in the ensemble flow in and out seamlessly, matching the tone and style dictated by Director Sargeant and filling in the Lomans’ world appropriately. Not a dry eye in the house at play’s conclusion. Surely Arthur Miller would be proud.

Kennedy Waterman as Linda; jeff Swearingen as Willy in Death of A salesman

Kennedy Waterman as Linda; Jeff Swearingen as Willy in Death of A Salesman

Put off by “serious” drama or youth actors doing adult shows? Let me give you the hard sell. Buy the package before it goes away. Or take me up on a pair of free tickets for closing weekend, of which I have several to share. See me on Facebook.

Alexandra Bonifield

Performances: Friday night, 11/20 at 7:30pm; Saturday matinee, 11/21 at 2:30pm; Saturday night 11/21 at 7:30pm.

One thought on “Making the Hard Sell: Fun House Theatre’s “Death of A Salesman”

  1. Pingback: Criticalrant’s Final “First Choices” of 2015 | Alexandra Bonifield

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