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Onstage: The Price

By Tom McElfresh · November 21st, 2008 · CityBeat Recommends

The Price is neither the last nor the least of Arthur Miller’s plays — although it arrived later (1968) and is certainly a lesser effort than the two seminal plays that elevate him, along with Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams, to the very pinnacle of American playwriting. Now, through Nov. 23 at the Madisonville Arts Center, four Blue Chips Players are airing out the piece in a sometimes rambling, mostly vigorous, ever contentious production that’s not unlike beating the dust out of an old carpet. Don Volpenhein, who recently appeared so effectively in New Edgecliff Theatre’s Glengarry Glen Ross, directs.

Act One is dominated by the curious appearance of 89-year-old Gregory Solomon, the furniture appraiser Victor has summoned.

Both physically and metaphorically he serves a sort of ringmaster/referee function for the brothers. It’s a strange role that plays like a Yiddish vaudeville turn dropped into the middle of an otherwise searing drama. Give Arnie Shayne this: He plays the role as written, with no more mannerisms and shtick than Miller supplied. On opening night the 10 people in the audience found him richly amusing.

Act Two strains credulity when it keeps the old man off stage for illogically long stretches — supposedly appraising stuff in another room — while the brothers fulminate at each other and the wife skitters around snapping at their heels.

See Tom McElfresh's review here.



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