Saturday, March 25, 2017

Broadway Theater Review: The Price



The Price
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Terry Kinney
Roundabout Theatre Company
Through May 7

By Lauren Yarger
Talk about a dream cast! Tony Shalhoub, Jessica Hecht, Danny DeVito, along with Mark Ruffalo, show what character acting is all about in a limited Broadway run of Arthur Miller's The Price presented by Roundabout and directed by Steppenwolf Theatre Company co-founder, Terry Kinney.

Shalhoub and Ruffalo play estranged brothers Walter and Victor Franz, who are reunited to sell the remains of their father's household before the building is razed. When his father lost everything in the Depression, Victor gave up his chance at college and a career in science to stay home and take care of him. Walter, however, went on to become a successful doctor. Something about why one got his chance and the other didn't has festered for 16 years and kept the brothers apart.

Victor's wife, Esther (Hecht), is tired of living on a policeman's salary and urges her husband to retire. She also wants him to accept Walter's offer of a job and his half of the money they might get for the sale of the household furniture and possessions.  Walter seems eager to make amends with his brother but Victor hesitates. At what price does this offer come?

Picking a name randomly from the phone book, Victor contacts Gregory Solomon (DeVito), an eccentric 90-year-old furniture appraiser to see what the old stuff, no longer in vogue, can bring. Set Designer Derek McLane litters the stage with all kinds of dusty, old antiques with many pieces suspended around the border of attic ceiling, a portend of how the past is looming, threatening to crash down on the brothers.

The play is one of Miller's best, in my opinion, giving thorough development to the characters and peppering the philosophical monologue about life with humor. Not wanting to give spoilers, let me just say that after watching Solomon eat a hard-boiled egg --  which seems to trigger genuine laughter from Ruffalo -- you will never eat one again without thinking of DeVito. Lines about movie tickets costing $2.50 (it is set in 1968) and about the federal government not being reliable generate bonus laughs as the original dialogue takes on new meaning in current times.

The play runs a bit long at two hours and 30 minutes with an intermission, and at times Miller seems to have forgotten he has stashed Solomon in the bedroom, but overall, it's a very human, raw, honest look at the ghosts in families and how they affect us when we try to reconcile the past with hopes for the future.

Hecht and Shalhoub are excellent and bring depth to characters we might otherwise not like. Esther is at once a fed-up housewife who is ashamed of a husband who doesn't seem to know how get ahead and his devoted wife and friend. Walter is a combination of a condescending brother trying to one-up his sibling and a display of humility by a man who has realized the folly of his ambition.

DeVito's comedic timing is a charm, even if we don't fully buy him as an aging Jew. Ruffalo, however, struggles to bring layers to Victor and the character comes off as clueless instead of a son who has been taken advantage of by his father.

The Price plays at American Airlines Theatre, 227 West 42nd St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 pm; Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm
Tickets are $69-$169: 
roundabouttheatre.org; 212-719-1300.

Sarah Holden (Costume Design), David Weiner (Lighting Design), Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (Sound Design), Jesse Tabish (Original Compositions), Tom Watson (Hair and Wig Design), Thomas Schall (Fight Director)

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
--God's name taken in vain

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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