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THE PRICE Andrews Theatre/Irish Classical Theatre Company
Apr 24, 2024, 21:13
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Through May 12
THE PRICE Andrews Theatre/Irish Classical Theatre Company

By Augustine Warner

Since the earliest iterations of what became theatre, family machinations have been a central plot element.
Just look at the surviving Greek plays which have come down to us.
Arthur Miller’s “The Price” is a lot more complicated but along the same lines.
Victor Franz (Ben Michael Moran) is a 28-year veteran of the NYPD and three years past when he could retire on a sergeant’s pension.
Wife Esther (Kate LoConti Alcocer) wants him to make a decision and move on to a new life of a pension and a new job, looking to move up a little bit in life from a small apartment and a cop’s salary.
It’s never quite clear, but she doesn’t appear to work, just sitting around the house brooding, smoking and (seemingly) drinking.
For Victor the past has returned because his family’s one-time mansion is to be torn down and the house has to be emptied.
His parents had once been rich and in his youth they were suddenly bankrupt, letting his mother walk away and his father molder in the attic of the house, with Victor dropping out of college in the depths of the Great Depression and taking care of his dad by walking a beat.
Now, used furniture dealer Gregory Solomon (a wonderful Tom Loughlin) is prowling the former residential attic, considering what he will pay for the dusty and old-fashioned furniture.
It’s been sitting there for years because Victor didn’t want to deal with the debris of that long-gone rich family.
It has bitter memories, a “What might have been?” life.
Brother Walter (Todd Benzin) left for med school and a prosperous practice and no communication with father or brother.
He won’t even return Victor’s phone calls about selling the furniture.
Victor and the aging, ailing Gregory Solomon agree on a price.
Esther wants more and then Walter appears, the very image of a prosperous and well-dressed Manhattan surgeon.
He thinks the price should be higher and he has just the income tax scam to do that, a tax dodge Solomon is familiar with.
The tension in the cluttered attic rises because Victor has obsessed angrily about Walter’s decision to walk away from the family remnant, forcing Victor to leave school and work, with Walter saying it wasn’t necessary.
Esther seems to raise the temperature herself, resenting those years of getting by on a cop’s salary, finding there had still been some money, which Victor didn’t know.
Walter begins to tell his story and it’s far from Victor’s image across the years of him: no communication, divorce, a breakdown, investments disappearing and living alone in a small apartment, rebuilding his practice.
It doesn’t seem to close the chasm between the brothers, nor does it repair the match of Victor and Esther.
Miller never seemed to look for a happy ending.
Director Fortunato Pezzimenti has put together a strong cast for the production, from the aged eccentricity of Loughlin’s Solomon, to the troubled long-suffering wife, LoConti Alcocer’s Esther, all working on David Dwyer’s fine set, remarkably similar to his set for the JRT’s “Kindertransport.”
“The Price” is a depressing story, more so as the play moves along but it’s also about the choices people make and how not all of them work out.
If you think all your own decisions were correct, you aren’t paying attention.
For Walter Franz, it took a long time to realize how bad some of his choices were.
For Victor Franz, it took even longer.
Gregory Solomon tottering in the attic is an example of making the decisions which carried him through violence and death to approaching age 90.
The production?
“The Price” is a well-cast and well-done production of a thought-provoking, yet depressing play.
The Andrews Theatre has a bar and some might want it afterwards.

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