A mostly nonverbal sequel to Death of a Salesman. Joe Iano

The Salesman Is Dead and Gone is audacious—an experimental, mostly nonverbal sequel to Death of a Salesman. Who would even try that? "I have this bad habit of wanting to add hope to the end of classical tragedies," says director Paul Budraitis.

The Salesman Is Dead and Gone, he explains, began with a conversation years ago about how we, as a culture, have characters we love to ritually sacrifice: Hamlet, Lear, Loman. "Why do we kill these guys over and over again?" Budraitis asks. "And what kind of effect does the sacrifice have on the sacrificers?" Now, after having directed recent productions of Hamlet and Lear, Budraitis decided to try and free Willy.

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Arthur Miller's 1949 classic ends with Loman committing suicide by car crash, hoping his son Biff will take the insurance money and open a business. This 2013 sequel begins with Loman sitting up in a coffin filled with dirt, holding a steering wheel and looking confused. The stage is dim and saturated in brown (dirt, coffin, a leather suitcase): a drab afterlife for a drab soul. The theater thrums with a barely perceptible but increasingly aggravating noise that sounds like the white hum of an empty airport being piped into a deep concrete well with us sitting at the bottom. The first thing Loman does after stepping out of his coffin and into this disorienting cosmic mystery? He's still thinking like a salesman—he shines his shoes.

This is one of the few powerful moments in Dead and Gone's ritual of purification, which is mostly told via design and the facial expressions of actor Mark Waldstein. The project's audaciousness is admirable, and it has a few sharp moments—the shining of the shoes, Loman failing to dance with a vision of his wife—but it mostly feels undercooked and still searching for its center of gravity. Dead and Gone has not yet arrived. recommended