When many of us are young, we have a great dislike for broccoli…well, for vegetables in general. (As the mother of seven-year-old twins, I have witnessed this first-hand.) Your parents and teachers can tell you over and over again how good it is for you and how it doesn’t really taste that bad. But, no matter how much they praise its merits, to you, it still tastes (and looks and smells) pretty awful.
Then, something amazing happens you get older. Begrudgingly, you start eating broccoli because it’s good for you. Then, something even more amazing happens...you start to really enjoy eating broccoli. You can appreciate the taste, the texture, and even the smell.
Often, when we select a script like Death of Salesman for our season we sometimes refer to it as “broccoli,” because it is a play that is filled with stuff that makes it just plain good for you. And, after watching a run-through rehearsal of the show last night, I was reminded just how good broccoli can taste.
Most of us have our first (and maybe only) encounter with Death of a Salesman in high school English class. As a teenager, you may have found it difficult to connect to the story and to the characters, leaving you with the impression that it’s heavy and boring and depressing.
If you can relate to this, I would like to encourage you to give Willy Loman and his family another try, now that you have a little more life experience. After watching the way that director Bob Neu and his cast have brought this quintessential American drama to life, I was reminded how truly relevant this story is and how universal its themes still are.
Arthur Miller constructed a story of a family grappling with the American Dream. There are very few who can’t relate to working their hardest and giving their all and never feeling as though they are truly getting ahead. It is a story of growing up, of watching your children grow up, of watching your parents age, and of coming to grips with your own mortality. It’s also a story about the grand dreams we have for our lives and how difficult it can be when the reality turns out to be not quite as grand.
Like life, Death of a Salesman is occasionally very funny. But, it is also sad, sometimes heartbreaking. More importantly, however, it is a cautionary tale that will encourage you to count your blessings and appreciate the happiness of the reality in which you live…and it will do it in the most life-affirming way.
Death of a Salesman is one of the world’s most celebrated pieces of theater and there is a reason why. It is absolutely worth the ride.
What I’m getting at is this: Don’t be afraid to eat your broccoli. It might just become your favorite vegetable.