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Written by: Arthur Miller
Directed by: Susan Wilson
“Miller at his most intimate … movingly understated” – The Herald
The Price, one of master playwright Arthur Miller’s most successful plays, is a funny and deeply moving story of two brothers in conflict with their father.
In a room crowded with the furniture of their youth, the brothers meet again after sixteen years. Between them is an unlikely arbiter – a ninety-year-old Russian Jewish junk merchant, a surrogate father sitting in the paternal chair, commenting, sympathizing, reprimanding and advising, before counting out the money – the price paid for the decisions of a lifetime.
“Scintillating, powerful and moving *****” – Telegraph
“Resonates now more than ever” – The List
“Drama in a league of its own … lots of comedy” – The Guardian
10 August − 07 September
Tuesday, Wednesday 6.30pm
Thursday – Saturday 8pm
$33 Friends of Circa (until 25 August)
$39 Groups 6+
$36 Groups 20+
$25 Under 25s
The Price worth the long preamble
BY LAURIE ATKINSON, THE DOMINION POST, 13 AUGUST 2013
Susan Wilson has triumphed yet again with a compelling production of an Arthur Miller play.
With The Price we are in familiar Miller territory: New York, sibling rivalry, the aftershocks of the Great Depression, American materialism and its corrosive effects on ordinary lives, the search for truth, and the destruction of illusions.
Tennessee Williams’ characters only survive by clinging to their illusions; Miller’s characters only survive by stripping away their illusions whatever the cost until the truth is found. A price will be paid.
This well-made play takes place in a marvellously cluttered attic of a Manhattan brownstone about to be bulldozed (set design John Hodgkins). Victor, a New York policeman, wants to sell his father’s old-fashioned furniture. He has arranged for a dealer to assess its value and offer a price.
While Victor and his wife Esther wait for the dealer, they talk. Miller takes about 30 minutes to set up the exposition necessary for the rest of the play to make sense, which means a long duologue and a slow start to the play, despite good performances from Gavin Rutherford and Jude Gibson.
But once the dealer arrives the play takes off and never loosens its grip on the audience. Gregory Solomon is the only comic character in Miller’s plays and he is a charmer. Ray Henwood gives a lovely performance as the funny, irascible, wise old man. He could walk away with the play but he stays part of an ensemble and never stoops to caricature.
The fourth character is Victor’s long estranged brother, Walter, a successful surgeon who became wealthy while Victor stayed home and cared for their father after their world was destroyed by the Depression. The denouement after the two brothers have parried the family secrets in an absorbing duel is as exciting as any melodrama when the truth is finally revealed and what price was paid.
Rutherford’s perplexed, decent policeman is nicely contrasted with Christopher Brougham’s suave, imperious surgeon. Their explosions of anger are riveting. Gibson finds exactly the right tones for the unsympathetic role of Esther so that she makes her much more than just a frustrated, nagging wife. This ensemble cast give impeccable performances.
Running time: 2 hours 25 minutes (including interval)
Please join us for a pre-show talk on Thursday, 29 August at 7.15pm, ‘Arthur Miller: Inside of His Head’ by Dr. Lori Leigh of Victoria University, in the Circa foyer before the evening performance of The Price. Enjoy a drink or bite from Encore Bar while finding out more about this classic American playwright. Free to attend.
Lori Leigh has a MFA in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College in New York and PhD in Theatre from Victoria University of Wellington. Originally from the United States, Lori has worked on productions and readings of plays both Off-Broadway and regionally, collaborating as a director, dramaturg, performer, and writer. She is currently a lecturer in Theatre at Victoria University of Wellington where one of her research interests is American drama.