If you want to see a fantastic play with an outstanding cast, go see Arthur Miller’s The Price at the American Airlines Theatre. You will experience an impeccable night of poignantly told storytelling that takes place in the family attic of a once great Brownstone home which is about to be demolished, however not before the skeletons expose their brittle bones to the light.
Two brothers come to terms with their past choices and the price of what it cost them in their lives. Victor Franz is a police officer, who though brilliant, felt that he had a responsibility to keep his father fed after the Great Depression rather than finish his science degree in college, while his brother Walter went to medical school and became a rich doctor. They have not spoken in 28 years and suddenly they’re reunited since the contents of their childhood home are about to be dissolved. Prophetic Gregory Solomon, an 89 year old furniture dealer who hasn’t been active in business in years arrives at the once lavish Franz home to see the haul and decides he will buy everything and make a comeback.
This great work directed by Terry Kinney speaks to the family dynamics made of Greek Tragedies. Danny DeVito steals it all in his first Broadway performance. He is totally and completely natural, thus up to the task of authenticating the life of the extraordinary old European Jewish hondler with wisdom, humor and insight into a person who it seems, has not lived one life, but many. DeVito is pure genius channeling Solomon, a fictional character with non-fictional origins, a dinosaur of a time that took some clever and rigorous thinking to live.
Mark Ruffalo invariably tugs at our hearts; however I found him far too ordinary and verbally bumble-some to believe he grew up with mammon of once impressive proportions and he actively fenced for sport. Though Victor Franz is a cop, he nonetheless came from a home of wealth with an exceptional education and an IQ to match. He plays his part like a worn out working man completely, with little to no nuances to persuade the audience otherwise.
His wife Esther Franz, Jessica Hecht, does a superb job as his loyal, loving, but often frustrated spouse, who yearns for a more comfortable life above her husband’s pay grade.
Silk suited Tony Shaloub is the absolute epitome of affluence coupled with neurosis. He is expansive and exciting to watch as the story of Walter unfolds and he tries to persuade his brother that he didn’t quite get his father, revealing the truth of a selfish and secretive patriarch. Where one brother is cynical, the other is romantic and true, but each pays a price for their choices.
I never once noticed that the play was two and a half hours long with a 15 min intermission. I was completely absorbed in the drama. I will never forget DeVito’s performance and everyone who sees this play undoubtedly will feel the same way. I have always thought I would have loved to be in the theater when Lee J. Cobb played Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, but I wasn’t alive then, thank- goodness I am for Danny DeVito. I caught a glimpse of greatness.