Symposium on the Price

By Abbotson, Susan C. W.; Shedrick, Sabrina et al. | The Arthur Miller Journal, Autumn 2017 | Go to article overview

Symposium on the Price


Abbotson, Susan C. W., Shedrick, Sabrina, Oricchio, Alexander N., Palmer, David, Balakian, Jan, Dominik, Jane K., Byrnes, John, The Arthur Miller Journal


The Price

Roundabout Theatre Company

American Airlines Theatre, New York

Previews 16 February, opening 16 March-14 May 2017

Directed by Terry Kinney

[Editor's Note: The Price is often viewed as one of Miller's more overlooked gems, though it has been produced on Broadway as often as Death of a Salesman and A View from the Bridge. It first appeared at the Morosco Theater on 23 January 1968, with Arthur Kennedy and Pat Hingle as the two brothers. This premier production was nominated for two Tony Awards (though did not win), for best new play and scenic design (Boris Aronson), and ran for a solid 429 performances, not bad for a serious drama. This year saw its fifth Broadway outing, having been previously revived in 1979, 1992 (another Roundabout production), and 1999 (a transfer of the successful Williamstown Festival Theater production). Both the 1992 and 1999 productions gained Tony and Drama Desk award nominations for best revival, and the 1979, 1992, and 1999 productions each gained a Drama Desk nomination for outstanding featured actor-1979, Fritz Weaver as Walter; 1992, Eli Wallach as Solomon; and 1999, Harris Yulin as Walter-but still did not win. This time round Danny DeVito has been nominated for both Tony and Drama Desk awards as outstanding actor for his rendition of Solomon, but as of writing this I have no idea if he will break the streak and win or not. It may depend on whose review you read here.

It is clear from the following collection of responses to the play that everyone had their favorite, and there seems no clear consensus on who that was. That itself suggests to me the clever complexity of a play that pulls the audience's empathies (and that of these reviewers) every which way. Miller's intent, as he stated in an original production note, and which several of these reviewers mention, was that audiences should not be able to easily choose sides between the brothers, and aside from this production's evident ambivalence in terms of sympathy, its subtle nuances also appear to offer us new possibilities for all four characters. Its most notable innovation, on which several of these reviewers agree, is that its refreshingly new take on Esther is especially original, and welcome. Other than that you will find each review focuses on something slightly different, so that collectively you will be able to gain a wonderfully replete sense of what Roundabout Theatre achieved with this revival.

-Susan C. W. Abbotson

Performance Review Editor

The Price

Roundabout Theatre Company

American Airlines Theatre, New York

Previews 16 February, opening 16 March-14 May 2017

Directed by Terry Kinney

REVIEWED BY SUSAN C. W. ABBOTSON, RHODE ISLAND COLLEGE

On its fifth Broadway incarnation, under the direction of Terry Kinney, The Price remains a relevant, captivating, and intriguing play. It is well cast with marquee names-Mark Ruffalo, Tony Shalhoub, Jessica Hecht, and Danny DeVito; while in previews DeVito (this is his first time on a Broadway stage) occasionally seemed uncomfortable in his role, he quickly rallied to give a comic performance the audience fully appreciated. Indeed, Kinney nicely emphasizes the potential humor of Miller's work, creating laugh lines for all four of the cast, and some cute visual humor such as Ruffalo's groin strain when practicing his fencing lunges as Victor, Esther kicking back on the love seat with her feet up growling that she wants "money!" or those ironic shrugs and declined invitations for a hug from Shalhoub's Walter.

The beautiful set design by Derek McLane was only one of the intriguing aspects. Kinney states in the play's program that his intention was to avoid creating "the oppressive environment that the play is usually set in" and warns us "[t]here won't be as much furniture." The intent was to build "a realistic set and [break] it in places," because "memory is broken in places" (35). Much of the furniture hangs from a wooden rack above the stage, though some key pieces circle the acting area. …

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