The setting is awful: sludgy indoors and sunsets on painted backdrops in the yard. That apart, all that's wrong with this version of the 1984 Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's play is the salesman himself. Dustin Hoffman's Willy Loman is a hard-working actor playing old; it's a technical performance, starting at such a pitch of sound and fury that it has nowhere to go when the humiliations really clock in. Loman is a complex character, pompous, self-deluding, bullying, laughable, pitiable, and ultimately tragic - this last never tapped by the actor. It isn't until the salesman's wife (Reid) lays into her sons (Malkovich and Lang) that you feel the dynamic of this family, the power of the play, and what acting can do to the emotions. This trio is terrific, trapped in the hell of the unattainable American Dream, and tearing into each other. Hoffman hadn't been on the stage for 17 years, and it shows.
Cast and crew