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'The Price' at Arena Stage

Hal Linden (Gregory Solomon) and Maboud Ebrahimzadeh (Victor Franz) in The Price, Arena Stage (photo by Colin Hovde)

Among Arthur Miller’s plays, The Price does not rank high. With few revivals in general, it was mounted earlier this year on Broadway, and a new production opened this month at Arena Stage. Seen there on Saturday night, it is not a version that demands a reassessment of this lesser play’s importance.

Miller turns to some familiar subject matter in this play: two sons divided by their failure of a father. One brother feels he has given up his hope for a better future to support the father, who went bankrupt in the Great Depression. The other brother went on with his life and became a successful scientist. Now that the father has died, the brothers have to get rid of all of their parents' possessions before their apartment building is sold off, and it is time for the family to settle its debts.

Other Reviews:

Nelson Pressley, Hal Linden is right for ‘The Price’ at Arena Stage (Washington Post, October 13)

Arthur Miller, The Past and Its Power: Why I Wrote 'The Price' (New York Times, November 14, 1999)
The best part of this production is to watch veteran actor Hal Linden in the role of Gregory Solomon, the hustling furniture appraiser called in to set a price on what is left in the apartment. Linden has a lot of fun with the character, who claims to be the age of Linden himself (or so), whom you may recall from his turn as the title character in the television show Barney Miller in the late 1970s. Most of the time that he is on the stage, more in Act I than Act II, Linden keeps the pacing of the play moving.

The text of the play stalls badly in the second act. More than once, when characters threaten to leave the scene, one really hopes that they will just get going. Maboud Ebrahimzadeh was the most sympathetic as Victor Franz, the police officer brother, a man all too comfortable resting in his misery, which irritates his wife, Esther Franz, played with a shrewish edge by Pearl Sun, in her Arena Stage debut. Least effective was Rafael Untalan as the wealthy brother, Walter Franz, although part of the weakness was due to Miller's text.

The Price runs through November 12 at Arena Stage.

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