Academic journal article The Arthur Miller Journal

The Price

Academic journal article The Arthur Miller Journal

The Price

Article excerpt

The Price

The Raven Theatre

Chicago, IL

4 March-14 April 2012

Directed by Michael Menendian

The Raven Theatre was founded in 1983 on Chicago's north side several miles south of Evanston. They endured a period of nonproduction during a move and rebuilding in 1999, but now occupy a comfortable two theater complex on North Clark Street. Both are black boxes, one about 150 seats and the other 65 seats.

Arthur Miller's The Price, was his eighth play on Broadway. It was first produced in 1968 with Pat Hingle and Arthur Kennedy. It has been revived three more times since then on Broadway, most recently in 1999 with Harris Yulin and Bob Dishy, and once committed to film in 1971 as part of the Hallmark Hall of Fame series, with George C. Scott and Barry Sullivan. I have not seen the video since it was first broadcast and I do not remember any of the details of that production forty years ago, but it is available at the Paley Center (Museum of Radio and TV) in New York.

At its heart, the play concerns two brothers and their memories of the life decisions they made while living in the house that must now be demolished. They must sell the household goods and determine their price while they talk of the price they paid in their lives during that time. Victor Franz-played in this production by Chuck Spencer-a veteran policeman approaching fifty years of age with thirty years on the force, is one brother. Walter Franz-played by Jon Steinhahagen-a well to do doctor, is the other. They have not spoken in years. Their father has been dead for sixteen and the residence has just sat there all this time. It is full of furniture, but no people. Gregory Solomon, played by Leonard Kraft, is the estate dealer called in to make an offer on these furnishings. Jo Ann Montemurro, plays Victor's wife, Esther.

The Raven's production is done in the larger of their two theaters. The set by Amanda Rozmiarek is spread in a line across the whole wide width of the playing area. Putting the playing area in the middle of randomly placed furniture in the attic might have had a different, more claustrophobic effect, but here it provided a more general background for the characters' discussion of their lives.

Kraft's Solomon is first on the stage, and he effectively hovers over the goods he wants to buy; coveting, but not really wanting to steal. The limp and the cane, which the actor utilized well, became a real part of the character. …

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