by Arthur Miller.
Octagon Theatre Howell Croft South BL1 1SB To 2 April.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat 23, 26 March 2pm
Audio-described 31 March.
BSL Signed 24 March.
TICKETS: 01204 520661.
then tour to 14 May 2011.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 March.
Solemn apart from its Solomon, a weighty play given a finely-judged revival.
This being Arthur Miller, the price is far bigger than the money 89-year old dealer Gregory Solomon offers Victor Franz for the family furniture, following old-man Franz’s death. Behind The Price lies family guilt. Back in the Depression Victor gave up career hopes to look after his suddenly impoverished father. Humble police work has seen him through life, but resentment stirs when brother Walter, the one who got away, arrives. A rich doctor, Walter eventually reveals Victor’s illusions about the old days.
Victor’s wife has to come to terms with her husband’s lack of material success. Esther’s not greedy, but knows why money matters. And moving around them is Solomon, called out of retirement, offering his wisdom and a valuation only Victor will accept.
The brothers represent a divide in focus for Britain today. Victor, putting others before himself as the public sector worker, Walter the businessman in pursuit of wealth, his rich coat a patient’s payment for removing gall-stones.
Or, if you like, the drifting Victor needs a system like the police to provide a routine and steady income, while Walter makes his way with energy and purpose. Though the problems of wealth are less emphasised than those of financial limitation, and Victor probably wins-out in sympathy, Walter has the clinching argument.
Miller’s 1968 piece has held the stage better than most since his mid-century glory-days. Few plays work so steadily towards a resolution. Perhaps too steadily, it can seem, as David Thacker’s Octagon revival measures-out the detail. Yet the picture is finally memorable, Tom Mannion bringing eternal apology and compromise, Suzan Sylvester a loyal and loving sadness, Colin Stinton a reasonable quality that explodes only in the final moment of argument, and Kenneth Alan Taylor a wheezing yet energetic activity, putting the others’ experiences in the context of survival.
Patrick Connellan’s in-the-round design places the old furniture around the stage, including one entrance, as if filling the lives three of these people have led. No wonder the outsider, experienced in dealing with the big old stuff that won’t fit into modern lives or homes, has the last laugh.
Victor Franz: Tom Mannion.
Walter Franz: Colin Stinton.
Esther Franz: Suzan Sylvester.
Gregory Solomon: Kenneth Alan Taylor.
Director: David Thacker.
Designer: Patrick Connellan.
Lighting: Mick Hughes.
Sound: Andy Smith.
Music consultant: Carol Sloman.
Movement: Lesley Hutchison.
Assistant director: Amy Gwilliam.