Discover his inspiration for the children’s story about a cheeky little fellow with big dreams of being in the spotlight.
Arthur Miller’s thrilling play about life decisions and the perception of memory is back in the West End for a limited run.
Now playing at the Wyndham’s Theatre, The Price is a comedic but frenetically-charged play that forces you to question the decisions you make and the price you pay to get the things you really want.
What is The Price about?
Victor Franz and his wife Esther have returned to a New York brownstone that once belonged to Victor’s father. Their task is to sell an attic full of furniture – many of the items reminders of Victor’s childhood – before the house is demolished.
To help them with this task, they meet Jewish furniture dealer and octogenarian Gregory Solomon at the property, looking for a deal.
An NYPD sergeant gearing up for retirement, Victor is happy to make a quick sale; but Esther pushes him to haggle. In the end, the deal is derailed with the arrival of Victor’s brother, Walter: a wealthy doctor who until now has shown little interest in the sale of decades-old cupboards, chairs and other packed-in items.
A row ensues. We learn that Victor could have been a scientist if he had not taken a job in the force to keep him close to their ailing father, while Walter has become successful and disinterested in the seeming meanderings of his family’s lives.
However, Walter posits a different version of events and a painful truth is slowly discovered, highlighting that memory can’t always be trusted and that sometimes the decisions you think you make have actually already been made for you.
Who stars in The Price?
David Suchet leads the cast as Gregory Solomon. Dishevelled, tired and unkempt, he is the perfect foil to both Victor – the strait-laced, uniformed beat cop – and to Walter, the prim, well-dressed doctor from the Upper East Side.
As Victor, Downton Abbey star Brendan Coyle delivers a remarkable performance that is a million miles away from the placid Mr Bates; and a terrific Sara Stewart offers incredible support as the funny, cocktail-fuelled Esther.
The quartet is completed by Adrian Lukis as brother Walter, who manages to make a real mark in his role, despite not appearing until the end of the first half of the play.
What can audiences expect from The Price?
Jonathan Church’s production is a powerful force that shifts between moments of sheer comedy to dangerously shocking drama.
The arrival of Suchet’s Solomon is one such moment. Crackling with humour, his introduction to Victor and Eshter fizzes with wit, fun and cheeky irreverence; but even this showmanship hides something. At 89-years-old, Solomon is unwell, struggling to make it through the day without an afternoon nap; and he’s suddenly uncertain as to why he should take ownership of a such a haul.
What’s most striking about the play is how it all takes place in one setting. In the attic room of their father’s house, surrounded by a mountain of mementoes – in a set design by Simon Higlett which is truly breath-taking – the two men fight over an ancient resentment they have carved out through the self-assessment of their brotherly roles. Walter sums this up best of all with the achingly crushing line: “We invent ourselves, Vic, to wipe out what we know.”
As revelation follows stunning revelation, each brother realises the price they have paid for heart-breaking decisions made decades earlier.
In the end, this 50th anniversary production of The Price is a richly affecting play – which, like much of Miller’s better known works, mines his preoccupation with the pleasures and perils of the American Dream.
What are the critics saying?
★★★★★ – The Telegraph
★★★★ – Evening Standard
★★★★ – The Express
★★★★ – The Stage
What else do I need to know?
The Price is now showing at Wyndham’s Theatre, London until 27 April 2019. The show runs for 2 hours and 40 minutes including an interval.
Tickets are on sale now. Get yours through Ticketmaster.co.uk