In “The Price,” written in 1968 and set in post-World War II New
York, Arthur Miller returns to one of his favorite themes: our need
to accept responsibility for our own lives.
This rarely performed masterpiece, intelligently revived by
Glendale’s A Noise Within, illustrates this when two brothers gather
to dispose of their long-dead father’s furniture.
Victor Franz, who sacrificed his education to look after their
Depression-ruined father and wound up a humble cop, wants redress.
His brother, Walter, who escaped to become a successful surgeon,
Watched by Victor’s wife, Esther, angry at being less affluent
than her neighbors and friends, and the shrewd furniture dealer
Gregory Solomon, the two brothers confront their irreconcilable hopes
and the illusory nature of their lives.
The play’s title, of course, refers not just to the sum offered
for the furniture but also to the emotional price each brother has
paid. Victor, in tethering himself to his conniving father,
subscribed to an empty dream. Walter, by leaving, succumbed to the
dubious ethic that material success creates a protective wall against
But the real joy of the play lies in the character of the wily,
life-loving 89-year-old Solomon, who contradicts Miller’s image as a
writer of graveyard solemnity. He is played to perfection by Len
Lesser, who endows him with a friskiness that justifies his claim to
have been an acrobat and that suggests that he still gets pleasure
out of furniture dealing. Even Lesser’s interventions in the sibling
rows imply the character has the residual wisdom of a natural
Geoff Elliott, who co-directed the play with Julia Rodriguez
Elliott, is artful as Victor, an essentially decent man corroded by
vengeful anger. Robertson Dean is an exceptional Walter, who is
fuelled by success-worshiping neurosis, while Deborah Strang
perfectly captures Victor’s wife, Esther, with a passionate vehemence
that suggests she has paid a heavy price for her husband’s integrity.
“The more you can throw it away, the more it’s beautiful,” says
Solomon of our disposable culture.
But Miller’s play, rather like the Spanish Jacobean table that
occupies center stage, has a mahogany durability that resists the
passage of time.