REVIEW: Speakeasy Presents THE LOMAN EMPIRE: THE SITCOM!

Willy Loman still has a dream

By Narelle Wood

I am an Arthur Miller fan, and while Death of a Salesman is a great play it is depressing and in need of a little humour. I was intrigued by the premise of this play as a comedy and what The Loman Empire: The Sitcom! – An unauthorised satire of Death of a Salesman accomplishes, is more than a little humour; it is non-stop laughing from start to finish.

The Loman Empire The Sitcom

The play has been reset as a 80’s sitcom and from the moment the audience enters they are onset for a live taping of The Loman Empire. True to the original script of the play, the taping of this episode of The Loman Empire follows Willy (Russell Fletcher), Biff (Jimmy James Eaton) and Happy (Danny McGinlay) on their pursuit for the American Dream and their experiences of falling just short of success. Of course Linda Loman (Lana Schwarz), Willy’s long-suffering wife, and Charlie (Damian Callinan), the long-suffering neighbour, also make an appearance.

The structure of The Loman Empire: The Sitcom! is a show within a show; the sitcom begins with the introduction of the stars and each act is broken up with a commercial break. So well put together is this production that they actually include opening and closing credits and commercials, some of which are so funny I’m still laughing.

The writing is exceptional. The writer Danny McGinlay has managed to intertwine large parts of Death of a Salesman with his dialogue, whilst keeping the integrity of all the characters. The director, Damian Callinan, uses the set really well with multiple transitions and the actors move seamlessly between characters, especially Dennis Manahan, who we first meet as the actor Chyp Wood. The personas of the off-screen actors are hilarious, but one of my personal favourites is the off-to-the-side-of-the-stage ‘Warm Up Guy’ (Lachlan Millsom) who keeps the audience applauding and laughing in all the right spots.

Even if you’re not a Miller fan or familiar with the original works, this is a hoot that had me laughing from the moment it started. But be warned; you may never read Death of a Salesman in quite the same way again.

Venue: Northcote Town Hall, 189 High St Northcote
Season: Saturday 20th September to Sunday 28th September, 8.15 pm, Sundays 7.15 pm
Tickets: Full $26| Conc $21
Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/loman-empire-the-sitcom-an-unauthorised-satire-of-death-of-a-salesman/

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