The Price by Arthur Miller

The Price by Arthur Miller
State Theatre Company of SA. Dunstan Playhouse. April 23 – May 16.

The State Theatre Company’s production of The Price sees them take on one of Arthur Miller’s most acclaimed plays.

Set around story of Victor Franz (Michael Habib), it explores the re-opening of old wounds as the New York City cop attempts to finalise his father’s estate before the demolition of their Manhattan apartment.

The play moves through scene-setting conversations between Victor and his wife Esther Franz (Carmel Johnson), followed by antiques dealer Gregory Solomon (Dennis Olsen), as it builds to the heart of the piece. The conflict between Victor and his estranged brother Walter Franz (Pip Miller) plays out with gritty realism, with the threads of their relationship painstakingly teased to reveal the reasons for long-held anger and distrust. Time and again they approach understanding and common ground before emotion takes hold and the moment is lost.

While Habib and Johnson noticeably struggled to maintain the New Yorker twang and Olsen's Russian-Jewish accent could have been mistaken for that of a German, they performed their roles commendably amidst heavy dialogue and little physical action. To quote Miller himself, The Price is "a play without candy" however the cast set a scene of unfolding drama beautifully, drawing out the conflict and tension of the slow-burning script. Olsen shone as the wily antiquarian Solomon, providing comic relief as well as moments of haunting honesty.

Rating a special mention was the quality of the set design. The stage of the Dunstan Playhouse was transformed into the attic of a run-down New York City apartment, piled at its edges with antique furniture and family heirlooms. The recreation was impressive and added much to the production.

To the end, The Price promises, and delivers, no resolution. This can make for challenging viewing, but accents aside the cast rose to the challenge and executed with authenticity and conviction. The result is a highly enjoyable night of classic Miller.

Nicole Russo

Image: Pip Miller and Michael Habib. (Photo: Shane Reid)

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