Thinking about Arthur Miller, the first phrase that jumps
to mind is: "They don't make 'em like they used to." Certainly it's a
common motif in his writing, but more to the point, the man himself was a
master of his craft. Artists Repertory Theatre celebrates what would be
Miller's 100th birthday this year by staging The Price. It is classic Miller expertly performed by a tight, virtuosic ensemble. The comparisons to Death of a Salesman
are inevitable: bickering brothers, the hazardous intersection of
family and capitalism, and a tattered, manipulative father. But in The Price,
the patriarch is already deceased and represented only by a pile of
furniture, leaving the brothers to unpack the man's lasting impact on
their lives. Also unlike Salesman, the audience is treated to a
story set in a single room without any trace of dreamy theatricality.
Only the beginning and ending bookends—actors alone on stage,
sumptuously lit, letting a room full of objects recall them to the
past—have that dreamlike tone. It's rare that Miller allows his audience
to laugh, but this play is filled with humor. Joseph Costa balances
impeccable comic timing and heart-aching tenderness as Gregory Solomon,
an elderly Jewish antiques dealer. The ensemble fuels one another
throughout this barreling freight train, and Adriana Baer's direction
disappears effortlessly, allowing these powerhouse actors and Miller's
well-crafted text to have center stage.
SEE IT: The Price is at Artists Repertory Theatre, 1515 SW Alder St., 241-1278. 7:30 pm Wednesdays-Sundays, 2 pm Sundays through April 26. $25-$49.