At the top, we see Willy Loman (Avery Brooks), a salesman, returning to his New York City home after another unsuccessful attempt to drum his product in New England. This night, however, when he returns, we learn he had not even gotten out of New York. His wife, Linda Loman (Petronia Paley) greets him with concern, revealing clues as to Willy's deteriorating proficiency at his job and his dwindling relationship with his oldest son, Biff (Justin Emeka.) When Biff and Happy (Darryle Johnson) realize that their father is home, they begin to discuss their father's odd behavior, and Happy reveals that Willy has been talking to himself. Willy talks to himself louder and louder beneath their conversation, further irritating Biff, who had been away for the year. Willy, however, is not simply talking to himself; he has been reliving his past in a series of disjointed flashbacks, revealing a relationship with his family very different from the one he knows in the present. Happy and Charley, (Marc Jablon) the Lomans' neighbor, overhear Willy's latest episode and attempt to bring him out of it, tasting a bit of his temper in the process.

Neither Happy nor Biff are as cognizant of Willy's trouble as his wife, Linda, who tells them that he has been trying to kill himself. She confesses that she has not confronted him about it and swears to Biff that his father's life is in his hands. He vows to "make good," but when Willy comes in, the two are soon arguing until Happy pacifies their father with the mention of a great business enterprise. The discussion of Biff's future is a volatile one, both hopeful and brutal. However, as Willy lays down for the night, he dreams of a wonderful future for Biff via reminiscing on his past.

At the beginning of the second act, the family seems to be in good spirits. Willy goes to his boss to request a change in position, only to be fired, launching him into another series of flashbacks. He manages to get to Charley, who offers him a job, but Willy turns him down before leaving to meet his sons for dinner, anxious to hear about how Biff's business meeting went. At dinner, Happy is preoccupied with picking up a date, and upon realizing that Biff's business meeting ended poorly, Willy is sent spiraling into a place in his past he had attempted to avoid for the last seventeen years. However, once faced with the unavoidable turn of events that precipitated the decline in his relationship with Biff, he can no longer avoid it. Willy sees one tragic option that he can take to end the problems both within his family and in Biff's career. His only hesitation is the concern that Biff may hate him for it.

Synopsis by Heather Harvey '11
Oberlin College & Conservatory | 101 North Professor Street, Oberlin, Ohio 44074 | 440-775-8121