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Wednesday 13 December 2017

THE PRICE IS ALMOST RIGHT: MILLER'S FAMILY DRAMA A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE...

THE PRICE

What'S with all the chairs? They're all over the place, some of them even stuck to the ceiling (for effect, we presume). Let's hope there are no accidents. Indeed, the old Franz family attic is quite clustered. It makes for a fascinating if somewhat claustrophobic setting.

A dusty record player, old fencing gear, antique table lamps, a harp - there's a lifetime of memories on display. That's the point. It's 1968 and Victor Franz, a New York City police officer approaching 50, has returned to the Manhattan Brownstone where his father saw out his twilight years.

The house is going to be demolished, so it's up to Victor to gather up the goods. His wife, Esther, joins him. They've got a movie to catch, but there's always time for an argument about money, retirement and a whole lot of shoulda, woulda, couldas.

That's when Solomon, a crafty, 90-year-old Jewish antique dealer, shows up to discuss family, philosophy and prices. Eventually, he offers Victor $1,100 for the lot. We know he's ripping him off, and so does Walter Franz.

Yes, the brother whom Victor hasn't seen in 16 years makes an entrance just as Solomon begins handing over the cash. It turns out that, after the brothers' dad lost the family's fortune and became sick, Walter scarpered so as to carve out a successful 
career in medicine. But Victor turned his back on becoming a scientist to stay at home and join the force.

INTRIGUING

There's resentment. Anger. Lies. There are also secrets. It's a heavy, conversational piece, a lengthy post-mortem of the brothers' fractious history.

Victor talks of spending so long mulling things over that he often forgets what he's supposed to be focusing his attention on. Funny, we feel the same way about this play.

Arthur Miller's tense familial drama is an intriguing and, thanks to a capable cast, 
fairly well-executed piece of work. But it also ties itself up in knots. Too many monologues. Too many hands on hips. A whole lot of 
analysis and not enough action, basically.

Things get stuffy (well, we are in an attic), and the tone is uneven, to say the least. 
Solomon (an excellent Lewis J Stadlen) has all the best lines, but we could have done with more of that cheeky first-half humour in the final act. Denis Conway and Barry McGovern make for a solid brotherly duo, and Fiona Bell adds all the necessary heartache as Victor's long-suffering wife. Be careful with those New York accents, though. Worth the price of a ticket? Just about.

Runs until August 16 hhhii

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