Driftwood Players

"Death of a Salesman" Feb. - March 1986

By Arthur Miller, Directed by Michael Sturm

(Biff) Gary Morean (Happy) Russell Wiitala (Willy Loman) Ernie Ingram

These are the only pictures in the Driftwood archives, also in the play were: (Linda) Kathy Eko (Bernard) Art Blauvelt (The Woman) Petra Lehman (Charley) Jim Watts (Ben Loman) Bill Clocksin (Howard Wagner) Richard Pickernell (Jenny) Stacy McFeely Carlson (Stanley) David Schmit (Miss Forsythe) Trudy Bache (Letta) Karen Durham
Pictures by
Greg Lehman

From The Daily World Saturday, February 22 1986

Ingram's remarkable performance helps bring 'death of a Salesman' to life

By Betty Butler
World arts editor

    The "Death of a Salesman" happens in bits and pieces, as dreams without substance fade, as the foundation of sand upon which the salesman built his life dribbles away. Finally, one member of his family looks at the others and himself and sees the truth.

    That's the way Arthur Miller wrote the play, the way the Driftwood Players and director Michael Sturm interpret it, and the way Ernest Ingram plays it.

    The disintegration of a human being is not a pretty thing to watch, even on stage where the audience knows it's not "real." But in "real" life we often cannot see so clearly the weaknesses  and fallacies that lead to the collapse of personality and character.

    On the Driftwood stage -- led by Ingram in a remarkable performance as Willy Loman, Kathy Eko as his too-protective wife, Gary Morean as his "golden boy" son Biff, and Russ Wiitala as the son bent on the same disastrous path of self-illusion -- the audience can see clearly all the steps leading up to the debacle.

    "Be liked and you'll never want." It's not what you do. it's who you know." That's not stealing -- it's only borrowing."

    And finally, "Why didn't he ever amount to anything? I taught him the right things, didn't I? Didn't I?"

    The four actors who play the members of the Loman family each reveal depth and understanding that their previous stage roles had not prepared us for. Ingram, even with scores of roles behind him, has never before played a character as tragically flawed as Willy Loman. Nor has Morean ever before reached the tragic intensity of the scene in which he and his father in spite of themselves realize their love for each other.

    Morean, Wiitala and Art Blauvelt, who plays their bookish friend, meet the challenge of portraying high-school kids one moment and 35-year-old men the next, as the action skips back and forth between past and present with Willy's wandering memories.

    The four Lomans are supported by a talented cast of actors. Petra Lehman interprets "the other woman" with convincing brassiness; veteran actor Jim Watts is genial, hearty and kickable as the friend-in-need neighbor; Bill Clocksin, looking remarkably like Dexter Horton, effectively plays the "ghost" of Willy's successful brother Ben, who drifts in and out of Willy's mind with sage advice about getting rich.

    In smaller roles are Richard Pickernell, the impatient boss who fires Willy after 36 years; Stacy McFeely Carlson as his secretary, David Schmit as a dinner waiter and Trudy Bache and Karen Durham as "pickups."

    The play is rich with insights well brought out by disciplined direction and fine performances; there aren't a lot of laughs, but there is a lot of life, the kind of life that we all need to look straight in the eye once in a while -- else many of us could be Willy Lomans.

    "Death of a Salesman" will show again at 8:15 tonight, March 1, 7, 8, 14 and 15. Tickets are at City Drug in Aberdeen, Harbor Drug in Hoquiam, and Sagen Drug in Montesano.

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