A CurtainUp London Review
The Original Review by Lizzie Loveridge
The Price is about something we can all relate to, the sad way in which families fall out, nursing grievances over the years founded on bad communication. The play seems somewhat unbalanced. The first half is a splendid laugh fest, dominated by the wonderful negotiations, laced with the Jewish humour and wisdom of Solomon who has come to buy the contents of the apartment. The second is altogether darker as long held preconceptions are challenged and the family re-examine long held attitudes to each other. There are plenty of skeletons in Victor's father's closet.
Sean Holmes' slick production has wonderful performances. Gregory Solomon enters in an extreme coughing fit, spluttering his way on stage in a theatrical coup. Warren Mitchell is a star as he delays the negotiations by producing his picnic of hard boiled egg and orange and saying his prayers before eating. His timing is exquisite. His affectionate portrayal of the octogenarian wheeler dealer whose stories, like his boiled egg, need to be taken with a dash of salt, is stellar. Solomon is both endearing and exasperating. With his head in his hands at the difficulty of reaching a decision, he manipulates the affable policeman at every turn. There are anecdotes from his colourful life, "I got married at 75, 54 and 23!" and some great advice. His attempts to enforce the agreed closure of the deal reach a pinnacle when he tells Victor's wife to keep out of it. "Darling, leave it to the boys!"
Larry Lamb does tremendously well too as the policeman with no ambition, who has made only nineteen arrests in twenty eight years. His accent sounded perfect to me and Lamb's performance has exactly the right amount of good-natured apathy. I was convinced that Victor was a good man. Des McAleer's camel coated, successful doctor, the almost smarmy Walter, keeps us guessing as to whether he is the selfish careerist Victor has thought him all these years of silent feud. I really liked the steel hard efficiency with which Walter comes up with the charitable donation scam. This man is an opportunist. Sian Thomas plays Esther, Victor's pushy wife, with her "champagne taste, beer income", who tries to give Victor some ambition.
Anthony Lamble's dark set is correctly filled with enough used furniture to make it look like an dingy antique shop. Solomon is right when he says people shouldn't get emotional with used furniture.
Like Greek tragedy, no player has all the right on their side. We all cling to illusions. Arthur Miller's development of his characters is finely honed, and although The Price may not be his most literary drama, it is a very satisfying evening in the theatre and well worth the schlep to Kilburn. Do not miss this opportunity to see the masterly Warren Mitchell treading the boards!
Curtain Up's overview of Arthur Miller's life and work which includes links to two other reviews of The Price
Mendes at the Donmar
Peter Ackroyd's History of London: The Biography
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
At This Theater
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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