'The Price' by Arthur Miller
Directed by: David Hemsley-Brown
Design by: David Hemsley-Brown
Lighting by: Nigel Greenaway
Sound by: Alex Lyon
Cast: Graham Collier, Polly King, Richard Parish and David Webb
This production was the first to be presented by Lighted Fools in The Mill Studio at Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
For a direct link to the GALLERY of PHOTOGRAPHS of this production CLICK - : The Price
'A beautifully intelligent play about two brothers.......pinned in positions of flight from their own histories' (Observer)
Victor, a New York cop nearing retirement, moves among furniture in the disused attic of a house marked for demolition. Cabinets, desks, a damaged harp, an overstuffed armchair - the relics of a lost life of affluence he's finally come to sell. But when his brother Walter, who he hasn't spoken to in years, arrives, the talk stops being just about whether Victor's been offered a fair price for the furniture, and turns to the price that one and not the other of them paid when their father lost both his fortune and the will to go on...
Fraught, but cut through with humour, The Price is one of Arthur Miller's finest plays.
The Cast of, The Price, David Webb (Victor Franz), Polly King (Esther Franz), Graham Collier (Walter Franz), and Richard Parish (Gregory Solomon)
REVIEW OF 'THE PRICE' BY JEFF THOMSON
Lighted Fools is a Surrey based theatre company with a fine reputation. In the competitive world of community theatre it has won festival awards that have progressively achieved for it a wide regional recognition and national acknowledgement and so much can be expected. In a leap of faith The Mill Studio – a major tour venue for professional fringe theatre – accepted the ‘Fools’ production of Arthur Miller’s play ‘The Price.’
Directed by David Hemsley-Brown, “The Price” explores both family dynamics and the legacies emanating from past decisions. Ostensibly about the sale of family furniture for the best price, Arthur Miller additionally explores the social price paid for ambition; the emotional price of compassion; and indirectly the costs of choice and our own modernity.
In a chaotic attic setting at two levels we discover furniture piled high, chairs, wardrobes, packing cases, clothing – the junk of a lifetime – but amongst which lays hidden items of sentimental and financial value. Hemsley-Brown uses these levels to achieve shifting influence and change. The set itself is a fifth member of the cast – full of distorted shadows – it broods as characters prowl, calculate or preen.
Victor Franz is determined to achieve the best price for his deceased Father’s effects and meets with a second-hand dealer, the canny and elderly, Gregory Solomon. For Richard Parish playing Solomon it is a tour de force; his arched back, tremulous voice and unsteady gait combine to achieve an authentic and compelling performance. It is a performance of observed detail and a cohesive element for the evening.
In a slow reveal we learn of a dysfunctional family, Victor (David Webb) and Walter (Graham Collier) are estranged brothers who have not met for years; Victor’s wife Esther (Polly King) placates and chides her husband in equal measure – she had hoped he might have reached more than the rank of sergeant in the New York Police Department, taunting that his brother Walter had done so well. She pleads for family reconciliation and as Act One concludes Walter suddenly arrives.
I have seen Esther played as a nasty alcoholic, spitting out her lines with a contempt that poisons anything within range. In this production Polly King’s interpretation heightened Esther’s erratic frustration, an alternative approach but leaving an impression she was far more persuasive and could have had a stronger influence on Victor than was apparent in the outcome.
David Webb as Victor was seen to advantage when vulnerable, offering a glance that spoke a dozen lines but Webb, a talented and experienced actor, failed to persuade me he had been numbed or destroyed by choice or had ever patrolled the streets of downtown Manhattan. There was little passion in his characterisation although at times he was ‘fairly cross.’ His was a NYPD sergeant with a refined Home Counties flavouring; even a clichéd suggestion of chewing gum on his shoe would have assisted.
Graham Collier as Walter, the arrogant brother who had succeeded where Victor had failed, understood the economy of movement and strength in stillness. His eyes blazed, his vocal delivery and accent was modulated to perfection. It was an interpretation of ultimate contempt and domineering substance.
The Mill Studio has hosted famous names and many innovative companies and much can be expected. This production from Lighted Fools despite my reservation was absorbing and as an overview remains a confident, well honed debut; it is a Company which can be relied upon to set a high standard.
COMMENTS FROM OUR AUDIENCE ON 'THE PRICE'
Congrats to all! Great play. We really enjoyed it!
You all clearly deliberate at some length in selecting some of the finest plays to suit the small company and intimate theatres
We thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Congratulations to all the cast
We both thoroughly enjoyed the play last night. The cast did an excellent job on this thought provoking piece
The Play was very enjoyable and the acting was extremely good
It was so real ... I cried through most of the second half'!
Great production. Exemplary characterisation
I just have to tell you how massively impressed we were last night.
What a performance!
We three thoroughly enjoyed it.
Couldn't believe how professional it was.
How on earth did Victor do that opening scene on his own? That was outstanding.
Make sure you keep us informed of future performances.
We really, really enjoyed The Price last night - great acting and a great production!
A wonderful portrayal of Gregory Solomon.
Another great success
The boiled egg scene was brilliant
Well done, probably your best!
Congratulations! Wonderful performance!
The production was top class, really professional.
Solomon’s characterisation was excellent. Took me back to N.Y.
I thought that Victor was pivotal and David Webb superb in a very difficult part.
Thought your production would go down well at the Orange Theatre in Richmond
Just wanted to say how much we both enjoyed the performance last night - absolutely outstanding!
Really enjoyed the play yesterday afternoon and thought you were so good - better than many professionals
Just wanted to let you know how much we all enjoyed the production last night.
Solomon’s eating of the egg was hilarious.
We found the play totally compelling; the way it was staged, the direction and acting were all simply superb.
Polly King was wonderful with her sustained accent, expressive face and amazing control.
I reckon it was the best thing I've seen from Lighted Fools.
A really fabulous theatre experience
Graham Collier was wonderful and his entrance was superb
You should be touring this production, it is so good.
Congratulations on ‘The Price’! I thought it was brilliant – the acting was first class from all of you and the set was tremendous.
It was lovely to see such an excellent well executed set, full of interest, conceived in the small area of The Mill and with a wooden type floor to define audience and actors.
I so enjoyed David Webb’s opening piece! So good to feel the silence of the audience matching his as he moved about the space
Richard Parish’s bumbling but knowledgeable Solomon was a joy to watch!
Marvellous, marvellous show! Thought you were all superb as ever!
Great performances all round and a thought provoking intelligent play.
A great evening last night. They say ‘Hell is other people’, but I think one's own family can rank right up there at times!
David Webb was brilliant, as usual
We really enjoyed it, very well done and excellently acted all round Some very impressive performances
David Webb is so convincing and he and Graham Collier together generated some real sibling rivalry
Congratulations to all.
Saw the play and loved it
Richard Parish gave a brilliant performance as Gregory Solomon.
The Price is an excellent play and the setting in the Mill was fantastic. Congratulations on the play. It was SUPERB !!!!
How much we enjoyed The Price on Friday night. We were engrossed from start to finish and the time flew.
We loved Richard Parish’s portrayal of Solomon - a wily old devil but so likeable. His mannerisms and gestures and way of sitting down and getting up again and moving around were so 'right' for such an old man - if it weren't for his amazing head of hair, he would have had everyone fooled one hundred per cent.
Hooray for quality. Excellent!
Really enjoyed this show – so thought provoking and moving – brilliant performances
Fantastic – well done to everyone involved
David Webb was outstanding. The extended silence at the beginning as he moved amongst his father's things, reminiscing was so mesmerising, I found myself wanting to know about the items myself!
The Mill Studio is so cosy and intimate it really helped the audience to feel part of the story.
All in all a great cast and a great evening. Thank you so much. I shall definitely keep an eye open for your future productions.