By Arthur Miller
Wyndham’s Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0DA to 27 April 2019.
Mon – Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2pm.
Runs 2hr 40 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 482 5151
Review: William Russell 11 February
Magnificent, masterly Miller play
This splendid 50th anniversary revival directed by Jonathan Church has arrived from the Theatre Royal Bath trailing good reviews and there is no reason to expect otherwise – transfers sometimes prove less than smooth, but this one arrives in immaculate condition. One of the joys is a blissful comic performance from David Suchet as Solomon an ancient Jewish dealer summoned by about to retire New York policeman Walter Franz to value the contents of the flat belonging to his late father.
Watching an actor bury the role that made him a household name is an extremely satisfying experience and Suchet, small, devious, and imperious, delivering his lines with exquisite comic precision, creates a marvellous not to be trusted monster who dominates the first Act.
Actually he is not the heart of the play – that becomes clear with Act two. This is a story about brotherly rivalry, parental exploitation, disappointed hopes and marriages in trouble. Walter and his brother Victor, a successful surgeon, are estranged. The Depression meant that although Victor got the chance to study medicine, Walter did not get to college, became a cop, and ended up looking after their father while Victor’s career flourished.
Walter, on the verge of retirement, wants to dispose of the contents of his father’s apartment, an Aladdin’s cave of a place full of furniture, some of which seems to hang from the ceiling.
In Act one Solomon runs rings around him and the mood is comic, but then Victor turns up. In Act two and we learn about the brothers’ past and discover that maybe Walter’s sacrifice of the career he wanted to care for his ruined father was not really necessary. Brendan Coyle is solid, stubborn, and guileless as Walter, while Adrian Lukis as Victor, a man whose marriage is in ruins, whose career has been not quite as smoothly successful as Walter thinks, proves to be every bit as duplicitous as the old rogue of an assessor but without the charm.
The engrossing battle of wills between the brothers as truths are revealed is complicated by the arrival of Walter’s wife Esther played by Sara Stewart. She sees in the money the sale of the contents will provide something to make their straitened lives that little bit better and although Walter balks at the idea, if Victor can ensure they get more for the stuff from Solomon the better. To say the evening belongs to Suchet is not to deny that the rest of the cast are on top form as well. But without him this would be a well cast, soundly directed revival of a tricky play. With him it is an evening to remember.
Solomon: David Suchet.
Walter Fraz: Brendan Coyle.
Victor Franz: Adrian Lukis.
Esther Franz: Sara Stewart.
Director: Jonathan Church.
Designer: Simon Higlett.
Lighting Designer: Paul Pyant.
Sound Designer: Mike Walker.
Composer: Matthew Scott.
Production photography: Nobby Clark.