Broadway review: 'Death of a Salesman' - Score: 9
From: Philadelphia Inquirer By: Howard Shapiro Publication Date: 03/15/2012
What makes this production so powerful is the way Nichols draws clear characters from everyone - even the waiters in a late scene seem to have back-stories hidden somewhere in their portrayals. ... From its opening, when Willy returns abruptly from a business trip, to its requiem in the final moments, Nichols squeezes these juicy characters. Miller gives Death of a Salesman a muscular narrative arc, and this revival provides the intensity to flex it and strike.
Philip Seymour Hoffman Leads Great ‘Salesman’ Revival - Score: 9
From: Bloomberg By: Jeremy Gerard Publication Date: 03/15/2012
It’s uncommonly rare to watch a revival and suddenly attune yourself to the sound of weeping around you, the shaking of your hand as you take notes and, most important, to recognize that what you’re feeling must be very much like what audiences must have felt at the opening of a great new drama. But that’s what I felt at the critics’ preview of Mike Nichols’s magnificent revival of Arthur Miller’s 1949 epilogue for the American Dream, 'Death of a Salesman.
A Smile, a Shoeshine and a Saint - Score: 9
From: Wall Street Journal By: Terry Teachout Publication Date: 03/15/2012
Philip Seymour Hoffman, the star of Mike Nichols's revival of Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman,' is following in the well-remembered footsteps of Lee J. Cobb, George C. Scott, Dustin Hoffman and Brian Dennehy, and it's a tribute to his talent that you won't feel inclined to compare him to any of his predecessors. ... The genius of Mr. Nichols's unostentatiously right staging of 'Death of a Salesman' is that each part of it is in harmony with Mr. Hoffman's plain, blunt acting. Like his star—and the rest of his perfectly chosen cast—Mr. Nichols has disappeared into the play itself. The result is a production that will be remembered by all who see it as the capstone of a career.
STAGE REVIEW Death of a Salesman - Score: 9
From: Entertainment Weekly By: Thom Greier Publication Date: 03/15/2012
Compliments must be paid. Director Mike Nichols' stirring Death of a Salesman, running on Broadway through June 2, harbors no radical agenda, no modern glosses or reinterpretations of Arthur Miller's text. Instead, Nichols & Co. play it straight. And rarely has a classic work seemed straighter, or truer.
Death of a Salesman - Score: 9
From: Variety By: Marilyn Stasio Publication Date: 03/15/2012
It's a bit of a mystery why Nichols chose to cast the lithe and slender Garfield in a role that seems to call for more brute strength than athletic grace. The thesp is far better suited to his upcoming movie role as the new Peter Parker in "The Amazing Spider-Man," and the physical incongruity is disconcerting enough to put him at a disadvantage initially. But by the end of the first act, the actor is holding his own, and when Biff finally spurns his father's false values and asserts his own ideals, Garfield claims the moment and scores big-time.
Death of a Salesman: Theater Review - Score: 9
From: Hollywood Reporter By: David Rooney Publication Date: 03/15/2012
Impeccably cast down to the smallest roles, with an ensemble led by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Linda Emond and Andrew Garfield, this emotionally wrenching production evokes the unmistakable atmosphere and attitudes of mid-century America while also putting down trenchant roots in today’s world. ... I had never before experienced the overwhelming impact of the drama to this degree, nor appreciated the extent to which Miller’s observations are culturally specific while at the same time universal and prophetic.
A deeply relevant 'Death of a Salesman' emerges - Score: 9
From: Associated Press By: Mark Kennedy Publication Date: 03/15/2012
The still-vibrant, still-powerful story of Arthur Miller's Willy Loman returns to a nation now emerging from a Great Recession, awash with consumerism, disgusted by greed and where audience members are striving pointlessly to be "well liked" on Facebook. Crisply directed by Mike Nichols and starring a heartbreaking Philip Seymour Hoffman, this "Death of a Salesman," which opened Thursday at the Barrymore Theatre, is now a gloomy 63-year-old mirror – the same age as Loman is in the play – held up to the world to prove that little has changed. ... Hoffman will deservedly get attention for playing one of the most iconic American stage roles with vigor, but this production gets its heart and soul from Loman's wife, played with ferocious love by Linda Emond. She is holding this family together with her nails, watching her husband fall apart, taking his abuse, soaring with his hopes, playing interference between him and her sons, and generally walking on eggshells.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Andrew Garfield In Death of A Salesman: My Review - Score: 8
From: Village Voice By: Michael Musto Publication Date: 03/15/2012
Philip Seymour Hoffman doesn't look the part of the 63-year-old salesman at the end of his rope, but he's not afraid to play the character's unsympathetic traits and he's poignant when Willy uncharacteristically realizes he's furthering his own destruction before diving right back into it. ... Yes, there have been better Salesmen, but this production is a solid reminder of the play's sturdy brilliance in dissecting the dark side of the American dream
It's very easy to buy into new 'Death of a Salesman' revival - Score: 8
From: USA Today By: Elysa Gardner Publication Date: 03/15/2012
Garfield vividly traces Biff's evolution from a confident, charismatic teenager to a man crippled by his father's expectations and mistakes. The U.K.-bred actor's body language, spry and vigorous in youthful scenes, slackens; even his canny New York accent sharpens, as a local's might, in excitement or under duress. ... All the performances are at once authentic and timeless, much like Jo Mielziner's abstract set design and Alex North's haunting incidental music, both restored from 1949's original staging.
'Death of a Salesman' still packs a punch - Score: 8
From: Newsday By: Linda Winer Publication Date: 03/15/2012
Let's get this out of the way at the top. Philip Seymour Hoffman is too young and soft to be the standard-issue iconic Willy Loman chiseled on the Mount Rushmore of American drama. Andrew Garfield seems too delicate and sensitive to be the Biff we know as the curdled former high-school quarterback and big Willy's golden-boy son. And none of that matters a bit in Mike Nichols' revival of "Death of a Salesman," a wrenching, powerfully inhabited production that honors Arthur Miller's 1949 masterwork -- complete with original sets and music -- while finding new shades of humanity all its own.
Feeling the absence of an everyman in 'Death of a Salesman' on Broadway - Score: 8
From: Chicago Tribune By: Chris Jones Publication Date: 03/15/2012
Garfield shows us a young man who is troubled, angered and deeply affected by the hypocritical rhetoric of his father. But he does not show us a young man who has gone out and failed. His visage is infused with articulate, attractive innocence; yet when you've been in jail, you have scars, scars that Biff needs, because it finally drives him to action.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Andrew Garfield are big hitters in Nichols’s ‘Salesman’ - Score: 8
From: Washington Post By: Peter Marks Publication Date: 03/15/2012
One must pay attention to a man even as inattentive as the loutishly bewildered Willy Loman, whom Philip Seymour Hoffman portrays so effectively in director Mike Nichols’s steel-girded Broadway revival of “Death of a Salesman,” which officially opened Thursday night at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. In concert with Andrew Garfield’s embittered Biff, the drifting elder son of the defeat-racked Loman household, Hoffman finds a revealing new way into the psyche of a character Arthur Miller introduced 63 years ago as the damaged end-product of a system that leaves workers to sweep up after the ashes of their dashed hopes.
Theater Review: 'Death of a Salesman' - Score: 8
From: NY Daily News By: Joe Dziemianowicz Publication Date: 03/15/2012
In Mike Nichols’ powerful and emotionally rich revival at the Barrymore, Philip Seymour Hoffman resists playing Willy as larger than life, but to scale. As a result, the play has never felt more like an ensemble drama. That fits. It’s a story of a desperate family, not just the delusional dad.
American Dreamer, Ambushed by the Territory - Score: 7
From: New York Times By: Ben Brantley Publication Date: 03/15/2012
Emotional distance sprang, for me at least, from a feeling of disconnection between the leading actors (all, I would argue, miscast) and their characters. ... Mr. Hoffman, Ms. Emond and Mr. Garfield all bring exacting intelligence and intensity to their performances. They make thought visible, but it’s the thought of actors making choices rather than of characters living in the moment. Their reading of certain lines makes you hear classic dialogue anew but with intellectual annotations. It’s as if they were docents showing us through Loman House, now listed on the Literary Register of Historic Places. ... Two performances stand out, luminous and palpable, for their authenticity. As Happy, the younger son forever in pursuit of Dad’s affection, Finn Wittrock provides a funny, poignant and ripely detailed study in virile vanity as a defense system. Bill Camp, as Charley, Willy’s wisecracking next-door neighbor, wears on his face an entire lifetime of philosophical compromises, small victories and protective cynicism. And he speaks so deeply from character that he makes even a line like 'Nobody dast blame this man' sound as natural as 'hello.
Theater Review: 'Death of a Salesman' - Score: 7
From: amNY By: Matt Windman Publication Date: 03/15/2012
At age 44, Philip Seymour Hoffman is still too young to be playing the 60-year-old Willy Loman. In a kind of dazed stupor, his Loman effortlessly switches between his out-of-control egotism and his private fears and insecurities. Still, Hoffman lacks the commanding ferocity that Brian Dennehy brought to the role in the 1999 Broadway revival. Rising film star Andrew Garfield, also too young for his role as Biff, holds his ground against Hoffman as they roar back and forth, and he emphasizes Biff's shame and discomfort. ... Linda Emond gives a radiant performance as Linda, stressing the character's unconditional love for Willy and her sober-minded ability to understand the realities of his situation. When she pronounces the now well-known line that 'attention must be paid,' a chill pervades the theater
Theater review: 'Death of a Salesman' on Broadway - Score: 7
From: LA Times By: CharlesMcNulty Publication Date: 03/15/2012
"Garfield plunges to the sea-floor bottom of this fractured father-son relationship and reveals unspeakable heartbreak throughout his perilous descent. Attention must be paid to such a performance, which not only supplies the production’s turbo-charged catharsis but also reminds audiences of the incredible power of great plays when they are inhabited by an actor willing to expose those primal wounds that in real life are just too painful to reopen. ... Garfield, in one of the most emotionally naked performances I’ve ever witnessed in the theater, lets us see the crippling weight of Willy’s overblown expectations. This young man becomes the play’s protagonist in a kind of Oedipal stage reversal that is thrilling to behold. ... Nichols’ painfully timely “Death of a Salesman” may have too many flaws to be one for the ages, but Garfield has made it one that I’ll remember for as long as I live.
Attention must be paid to age - Score: 7
From: NY Post By: Elisabeth Vincentelli Publication Date: 03/15/2012
Hoffman faces a big problem in that he’s 44 to Willy’s 60. It’s hard to buy him not only as a man nearing retirement age, but as the father of two grown sons. [...] Despite its central miscasting, the production is quite watchable. A big reason is the power of the play itself.