There are some big names attached to this show: great American playwright Arthur Miller, of course, and two internationally renowned Australians, director Neil Armfield and actor Anthony LaPaglia.

Death of a Salesman

Josh Helman and Anthony LaPaglia in Death of a Salesman, 2023. Photo © Jeff Busby

Such names raise expectations. As does the fact that Death of a Salesman, which premiered on Broadway in 1949, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play, and is widely considered among the 20th century’s finest. Armfield’s new production actually exceeds my high expectations, with its restrained, intelligent approach and extraordinary performances by the four principals in particular.

Set in Brooklyn in the late 1940s, Death of a Salesman centres on Willy Loman, a travelling salesman obsessed with success and the idea that this is driven by charisma. With his career in decline, and his two grown sons Biff and Happy having achieved little in their lives, Willy’s mental state is brittle. He is experiencing hallucinations that bring past events into his present.

Loyal wife Linda tries to manage the deteriorating situation, and Willy’s sons endeavour to please him. His expectations of...