By: Isa Goldberg
Having found The Price to be an oddly quotidian play, given that Arthur Miller wrote it, it is an unexpected pleasure to see this revival by The Roundabout Theatre, at the American Airlines Theatre on Broadway. Under Terry Kinney’s insightful direction, this revival is, most importantly, comic, which is a damn good thing when you’re sitting in an attic filled with memories of the 1929 stock market crash. Here we meet the two surviving brothers, Victor, an understated Mark Ruffalo, his wife, an optimistic, albeit disappointed Jessica Hecht, and his brother Walter, Tony Shalhoub. While outgoing and generous, Shalhoub’s Walter, spares no one from his personal sense of justice.
But the surprise appearance, amidst this spectacular casting, is an octagarian antique dealer, played by Danny DeVito. His Solomon seeks justice only for himself.
While the arguments are obvious, including the fight over the family money; the absence of parental love; and the loss of self that insufferable families demand, the issues drive to the heart of so much of Miller’s oeuvre. Like Death of A Salesman, the equation between success and money presides here, as does the failure, literally the crash, of the American Dream. But there is also something very simple at the heart of the dialogue between these family members about what it takes to be a man. Suddenly that question appears as the riddle that haunts many of Miller’s iconic characters, from John Proctor in The Crucible to Eddie and Rudolfo in A View from a Bridge, not to mention the ostensibly autobiographical play, After The Fall.
Derek McLane’s contemporary set, places us in an attic surrounded by water towers that mirror our city’s innards. But the entertainment is Coliseum-style, with Roman gladiators fighting for their lives. And at the end, DeVito’s laugher ricochets from the proscenium stage like an apparition of some ridiculous destiny.
The Price **** 1/2
Roundabout Theater Company
American Airlines Theatre
227 W. 42nd Street
212-719-1300 or roundabouttheatre.org
2 hours and 30 minutes, with one 15 minute intermission
Photos: Joan Marcus