WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE? Wyndham’s Theatre RUNTIME: 2 hours and 40 minutes (with 20-minute interval)
WHEN? 9/3, runs to 27/4/19
The effect of the Great Depression on America in the 1930s is a familiar theme running throughout the work of Arthur Miller and major revivals of his work are due at both the Old Vic, already currently staging The American Clock, and the Young Vic.
- Read on for reasons including whether The Price is worth its 3 Olivier Award nominations
The Price was written in 1968 and followed better known work including All My Sons (which opens at the Old Vic from 13/4 starring Sally Field) and Death Of A Salesman (revived by Marianne Elliott at the Young Vic from 1 May starring Sharon D. Clarke and Arinzé Kene).
It is the story of Victor Franz (Downton Abbey‘s Brendan Coyle) who discusses the value of his late parents’ possessions in their attic with antiques expert Gregory Solomon (David Suchet, idiosyncratic and very funny in the stand-out role) and later the brother Victor is estranged from.
We learn from conversations with his wife (an engaging Sara Stewart) that policeman Victor is on the cusp of retirement and would like to resume the education that was put on hold when he started to nurse his ailing father but worries it could be too late.
When his successful brother Walter arrives (the Olivier Award-nominated Adrain Lukis), family divisions are re-examined anew as the consequences of decisions made a generation ago are brought into new light.
The 50th anniversary of the play’s original run was celebrated with this revival at the Theatre Royal, Bath. Director Jonathan Church uses stacked up furniture effectively to convey the height and clutter of the attic while the use of laughter at occasions throughout permeates a sense of unease.
We saw Suchet late last year in the Pinter at the Pinter season and he is unrecognisable here as a furniture buyer reinvigorated by an unexpected telephone call that gives him new purpose and who serves as a reminder of the unglimpsed father of this piece as well as a witness to the events of the Great Depression whose influence is still felt here.
The Price is a more satisfying dramatic work than The American Clock, currently running at the Old Vic, which is staged more inventively but is ultimately far less moving. This revival has been nominated for 3 Olivier Awards (to be awarded in our presence at a ceremony next month at the Royal Albert Hall) and it is Lukis’ flash brother we expect to be most in contention for a win.
Suchet faces competition from our Best Theatre Actor monsta winner Arinze Kene but it is his charming and quirky performance, realised most notably during a boiled egg peeling moment, which dominates here.