LEWISTON — Powerful and important are the two words that sum up the current production of “Death of a Salesman” by Out of the Box Theater Company.

An outstanding cast captures and holds the audience with this high-power performance of Arthur Miller’s classic play. Its presentation at the small Downstage venue of L/A Arts brings the emotion and action right to the front seats.

Linda Britt has directed this icon of American theater with exceptional skill. Although the play and its outcome cannot be described as anything but sad, it is filled with universal truths about uphill battles to succeed when nothing seems to work. This production is well worth seeing for many reasons, not the least of which is the satisfaction of seeing such good work.

Mark Hazard is totally on target in his portrayal of Willie Loman, the dead-tired salesman who sees his chances of success slipping away. His years of hard work are going unrewarded and his sons are squandering their lives in aimless pursuit of Willie’s dreams for them.

“Death of a Salesman” is a dark look at a misguided pursuit of the American dream. Willie can’t understand why his efforts are ignored and eventually discarded by his employer when he has always believed that success inevitably follows honest work.

Willie’s son Biff is a drifter and petty thief. Matt Delamater delivers a solid performance in that role. He displays a deep dramatic talent in clashes with his father over his aimless job-jumping and attempts to “find himself.” Delamater has become one of the area’s finest actors in just a few years since discovering a love for the stage in several Norway and Lewiston-Auburn shows.

Hap, the other son, is also well played by Paul Menezes, a veteran actor in many area productions. His credits include musicals as well as drama, including “A Few Good Men” and “Side Man.”

Cheryl Reynolds, another favorite from area shows including “The Lion in Winter,” gives a key performance as Linda, Willie’s wife. She plays the loyal and loving supporter of an imperfect man; and like many wives of the 1940s, she does the job despite being kept in the background and being told, “don’t interrupt.”

Reynolds brought the same kind of low-key importance to her recent role in Community Little Theatre’s production of “Deathtrap.” In “Death of a Salesman,” she is the only character who understands Willie’s faults, and she suddenly explodes with the demand that “attention must be paid” to the faltering man she loves.

Miller’s play was one of the first to make significant use of flashbacks as a theatrical technique. Willie often goes back in his memory to conversations with his successful brother Ben, played by Stan Spilecki. Willie repeatedly pleads with Ben to tell him the secret of his success and to assure him that he has raised his boys properly.

Spilecki also is scenic designer and technical director for this show, and he created an imaginative set in a very small space that serves as several rooms, a restaurant and an office.

Other fine performances are given by Gerry Therrien as Charlie, Willie’s neighbor and friend, and by Michael Litchfield as his son, Bernard. John Blanchette plays Willie’s boss, Howard, and Araminta Star Matthews is Miss Forsythe, a woman in Willie’s hotel room when Biff pays an unexpected visit to him.

Pat Phillips plays the Other Woman in another flashback scene. Ellen Peters appeared as Jenny/Letta, pick-up dates for Biff and Hap, in the Aug. 6-8 performances. Alice Ruvane will play Jenny/Letta in the Aug. 13-15 shows.

Ryan Dubois, a Lewiston High school senior, makes his OOTB debut as Stanley. He has appeared in numerous other local shows.

Remaining shows

WHAT: “Death of a Salesman”

WHO: Out of the Box Theater Company

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 13-14; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15

WHERE: L/A Arts’ Downstage venue, accessible from Canal Street Alley, Lewiston. Parking available at Camden National Bank, 110 Canal St.

TICKET: Call 782-7228. Seating is limited.


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