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Roundabout Theatre Company Presents Arthur Miller’s "The Price" at the American Airlines Theatre
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Roundabout Theatre Company Presents Arthur Miller’s "The Price" at the American Airlines Theatre

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Roundabout Theatre Company
Todd Haimes, Artistic Director/CEO
Julia C. Levy, Executive Director
Sydney Beers, General Manager
Steve Dow, Chief Administrative Officer

Mark Ruffalo, Jessica Hecht
Tony Shalhoub, Danny DeVito

Arthur Miller’s The Price
(The Price Website)

Directed by Terry Kinney

At the
American Airlines Theatre
227 West 47th Street

Set Design: Derek McLane
Costume Design: Sarah J. Holden
Lighting Design: David Weiner
Sound Design: Rob Milburn & Michael Bodeen
Hair Design: Tom Watson
Fight Consultant: Thomas Schall
Dialect Coach: Stephen Gabis
Production Stage Manager: Bess Marie Glorioso
Production Management: Aurora Productions
Casting: Jim Carnahan, CSA
“The Price” General Manager: Denise Cooper
Director of Marketing: Elizabeth Kandel
Director of Development: Christopher Nave
Adams Assoc. Artistic Director: Scott Ellis
Founding Director: Gene Feist
Press: Polk & Co.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 24, 2017

It’s 1968, sixteen years after a deceased father’s depression-squashed bank account played favorites between two adult brothers, Walter Franz and Victor Franz. Now, in the dusty attic of an about-to-be demolished New York brownstone, crowded with hoarded antique furniture, a broken harp, fencing mask and sword, a windup Victrola, forgotten lace tablecloths, and silk lingerie, Victor and Walter are meeting for the first time in those frozen sixteen years. The anticipated fraternal thaw is elusive, as financial secrets and betrayals are stunningly revealed. Arthur Miller, who lived through America’s devastating depression, paints two tortured brothers, whose fate was sealed decades earlier when Victor was pressured into leaving college and his beloved science studies to care for their ailing father. Walter, now a financially comfortable surgeon, had refused to help with Victor’s tuition. Moreover, as the dialogue unfolds, a large sum, in those days, $4,000.00, was entrusted by their father to Walter for smart investment. Victor never knew until now, in the airless attic, that this particular fund could have changed the course of his and his wife, Esther’s, lives. The fate of that old fund is left unspoken.

Act I (Miller originally wrote this play as one act), introduces Mark Ruffalo as Victor, a scruffy, warm, needy, loving husband, a policeman in uniform, and a guy in a hurry to make a deal with used furniture-salesman, Gregory Solomon (Danny DeVito). Jessica Hecht is Esther, soft-spoken in a rose-hued suit and blouse, rubbing Victor’s back, while hoping for a windfall from Solomon, so they can finally spruce up their limited lifestyle. Mr. DeVito is introduced while Esther is offstage shopping, and he mesmerizes the audience. He’s grown a white mustache and small beard and dons spectacles and a grey, three-piece suit with a pocket watch. He plays the 89 year-old Solomon like he’s on the borscht circuit. His one-liners and vaudevillian timing, while noshing on a hard-boiled egg, are priceless, not a pun. He plays Victor like a violin and makes a deal for $1,100.00 for everything in the attic, although he offers the family a few chosen souvenirs. But, when Walter (Tony Shalhoub) appears just before the Act I curtain, in a lush camelhair coat and olive-brown silk suit, with an air of arrogance and hauteur, Victor’s deal seems to sink faster than the Titanic. Act II brings the bargaining skills of Solomon into the musty spotlight, as Mr. DeVito appears and disappears, while the brothers mutually embrace, confide, accuse, and chip away any lasting sense of self.

As Victor, Mr. Ruffalo gives the most nuanced performance, with twofold yearning for upscale security and acceptance of his predetermined fate as an almost-retired cop with “a salary that everyone knows”. His eyes tear, his muscles tighten, his shoulders slouch. But, when he speaks about his son, a student at MIT, who will follow Victor’s dreamed-of path to a career involving science, he vividly brightens. As Walter, Mr. Shalhoub seems made of Teflon, with an air of invincibility and achievement, until we hear him slide over his unknown divorce, his paternal estrangements, and “time away” for reasons of stress. He’s “generous” with his share of the sale with Solomon, and he’s affectionate to Esther, but, in the autumn of his life, he’s unable, for now, to win back a relationship with Victor. As Esther, Ms. Hecht is eloquent, feminine, even coquettish around the two new men in the attic. Her bonding with Victor conquers the day’s disappointments, even revelatory disasters. As Gregory Solomon, Mr. DeVito wowed the crowd and injected humor into each of his stage arrivals. He should have a new play written just for such a role, as this was his Broadway debut.

Terry Kinney, Co-founder of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, has impressively directed this quartet of dramatic maestros, each exuding a unique personality and emotional aura. Derek McLane’s set keeps the eye traveling from the shadows and shapes of New York water towers, seen from the dim windows of the creaking brownstone attic, to the multitude of strung-up dining room chairs, evocative of pre-market crash entertainment and expansive family togetherness. Sarah J. Holden’s remarkable costumes include Walter’s lush coat and Esther’s new, pink linen suit. David Weiner’s lighting keeps a level of dust and darkness imbued in the old, but sturdy tables and armoires, each with its own story. The Milburn-Bodeen sound design was so clear and crisp that a burlesque laughter record was played in bookended style tonight, giving Solomon, left alone in the spotlight, visible joy, as he got the last laugh on a great deal.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at