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Theatre Review: The Price

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"The Price" takes place in an old attic, crammed with dusty furniture and mementos - an abandoned time capsule. And the building is about to be torn down - everything must go. We meet a middle-aged man, negotiating a bulk sale with an elderly appraiser. The cagey old geezer lets on that most of the stuff is completely out of style.

Solomon: Anything Spanish Jacobean, you will sell quicker a case of tuberculosis.

Victor: Why? That table is in beautiful condition.
Solomon: Officer, you are talking reality. Now with used furniture, you cannot talk reality. They don't like that style. And not only they don't like it, they hate it. And the same thing with that buffet there….
Veteran actor David Silberman is marvelous as the 89-year-old businessman. But the meat of this drama is the strained relationship between the two brothers who own the stuff - and they don't get along. One dropped out of college to tend the aging father, getting by on a modest salary as a cop. The other brother became a wealthy surgeon, disappearing into a mansion in a tony suburb. The brothers haven't talked in years. But with family memories at stake, the long-absent surgeon walks in, and relives the downside of material success.
Walter: I found myself alone, in my living room, dead drunk, with a knife in my hand, getting ready to kill my wife.
Esther: Good Lord!
Walter: Yeah. I almost made it, too. But there's one virtue in going nuts, provided you survive it, of course. You get to see the terror. Not the screaming kind, but the slow daily fear we call 'ambition,' 'cautiousness,' and 'piling up the money.'
These brothers try to make peace - but they can't.
Walter: And I've wanted to tell you for some time is that you helped me understand that in myself.
Victor: Me?
Walter: Yes. Because of what you did….
Past disputes resurface, as the two brothers argue over what constitutes success in life, and failure. It's a spectacular confrontation, and Miller's sizzling script is well served by this illuminating, gripping production. Encountering "The Price" is like finding a dusty treasure in the attic - I encourage you to see it.
The B Street Theatre's production of "The Price" continues through November 3rd.  
NPR essay on "Arthur Miller's Lasting Impact"
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