Review Roundup: Arthur Miller's THE PRICE Opens on Broadway- All the Reviews!
Roundabout Theatre Company welcomes Mark Ruffalo, Tony Shalhoub, Jessica Hecht and Danny DeVito in a new Broadway production of Arthur Miller's The Price, directed by Steppenwolf Theatre Company co-founder, Terry Kinney, opens officially tonight at the American Airlines Theatre (227 West 42nd Street).
When the Great Depression cost his family their fortune, Victor Franz (Ruffalo) gave up his dream of an education to support his father. Three decades later, Victor has returned to his childhood home to sell the remainder of his parents' estate. His wife, his estranged brother, and the wily furniture dealer hired to appraise their possessions all arrive with their own agendas, forcing Victor to confront a question, long-stifled, about the value of his sacrifice. One of the most personal plays by the consummate voice of the American everyman, Arthur Miller's The Price is a riveting story about the struggle to make peace with the past and create hope for the future.
Let's what the critics had to say!
Alexis Soloski, The New York Times: Sympathetically directed and ardently acted, there's much to enjoy in this Roundabout Theater Company revival, which opened Thursday night at the American Airlines Theater. Yet it shows "The Price" as a smaller, more stolid work than it wants to be - still just a little out of style.
Robert Kahn, NBC New York: I can see why "The Price" isn't staged as frequently as the Miller classics. The second act spins into an exhausting cyclone of old slights and misunderstandings to justify the silences between siblings. Director Terry Kinney does his best to keep things reeled in, but some of the interaction between the brothers borders on tedious. "The Price" is best described as dyspeptic. If you're looking for a hero or a villain, it's an irresolvable conundrum-you can find evidence that it's any of the four. That said, in the hands of a quartet as skilled as this, what we're left remembering finally is not Miller's art, but something of a master class in great performing.
Joe McGovern, Entertainment Weekly: Thanks to his 40 years of work in movies and on TV - and his uniquely gnome-like, non-leading-man qualities - Danny DeVito is a performer with probably close to 100 percent name recognition. Me and you and everyone we've ever met know DeVito, whether from Taxi or Twins or Batman Returnsor It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And yet the actor is strangely underappreciated for his extraordinary comic timing, humongous heart, and inimitable presence. His unforgettable performance in Arthur Miller's The Price is serious reminder that DeVito belongs in the pantheon of greats. His supporting role - and the 72-year-old's Broadway debut - completely steals the spotlight in this wobbly revival of one of Miller's (deservedly) lesser-known plays about American male remorse and angst.
Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: DeVito, playing the kind of irreverent, hilarious, irritation-generating dynamo that he also does so brilliantly on film-steals the audience's attention, especially when it comes to consuming an egg, the shell of which he cracks with his cane. He then eats it with the gusto that Cookie Monster attacks his cookies. His character is 89, and in a long, colorful life has been three times married and somehow acquired a discharge from the British Navy. But he, too, is hiding a family tragedy, and DeVito's emotional register shifts perfectly at the moment of its revelation. Hecht skillfully does as much as she can do with very little, Miller's vision of her seems beached between acquisitive shrew and frustrated peacemaker, with little shading in between-it is Hecht's subtle coquettishness that adds an edge to her interactions with Walter. Shalhoub is also unexpected: he looks as smooth as any stage villain should yet his desire for money isn't simple greed, and he doesn't patronize his brother, despite having materially achieved so much more. He puts the price of his beautiful coat at "two gallstones"-operated on "a big textile guy" who keeps sending him things.
Jeremy Gerard, Deadline: Has there ever been a better gift to scenery-chewing actors than The Price? This is, after all, a play so chock full of delectable scenery that half of it is hanging from the ceiling. No wonder Arthur Miller's 1968 breast-beater is irresistible to actors of a show-boating bent and the theatergoers who worship them. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but The Price is, at best, a master's second-tier work - Miller lite. Many of its qualities and all its flaws are thrown into relief in Terry Kinney's damask-heavy revival, which opened Thursday night at Broadway's American Airlines Theatre in a Roundabout production starring DeVito, Mark Ruffalo, Tony Shalhoub and Jessica Hecht.
Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: Victor (Mark Ruffalo), a working-class cop, blames his estranged brother, the well-heeled Walter (Tony Shalhoub), for abandoning him and their broken father during the Great Depression. When they meet to sell the old man's furniture, it's the first time they've seen each other since his death 16 years earlier. Harsh words are spoken; old wounds bleed afresh. Ruffalo and Jessica Hecht, as Victor's frustrated wife, do creditable work, but Shalhoub falters; although he is persuasive at first, when Walter floats on silky smarm, his emotional scenes have a tinny ring. The play winds up in the pocket of Danny DeVito, making his Broadway debut as a charming old ganef of a furniture dealer. With so much character and history compressed into his small body, he is a good match for the play. After dominating the first act, DeVito mostly disappears for the second, and the revival's energy flags without him. Only when he's onstage does The Price seem right.
Joe Dziemianowicz, The New York Daily News: Terry Kinney guides an atmospheric, period-rich production. Acting is uneven. Ruffalo gives a lived-in, believable performance as the indecisive and unsatisfied cop. But it's a mystery why being a career cop was a fate worse than death. Hecht is persuasive as an acrid, long-suffering spouse who's unafraid to speak her mind. But Shalhoub's mannered performance jars and gums up the works. Judging by his deliberate cadence, he can't quite shake the character he recently played in the musical "The Band's Visit."
Robert Hofler, TheWrap: Until Tony Shalhoub arrives on stage to usher in a very different second act, theatergoers at the Roundabout's American Airlines Theatre might get the impression that they're watching a big, broad comedy. So what if the play is Arthur Miller's "The Price," which opened Thursday? Until Shalhoub's entrance at the very end of act one, Danny DeVito has single-handedly turns "The Price" into a Jewish laugh riot with his expert turn as Mr. Solomon, a comfy, psychologically astute furniture dealer right out of the Neil Simon playbook. Mr. Solomon gets the best price (for himself) by talking about everything - his wives, his retirement, his health - everything except what price he's willing to pay for the two Franz brothers' furniture, left to them by their long-departed father.
Marilyn Stasio, Variety: Miller wrote Solomon as a half-wise, half-comic figure. DeVito, who holds the audience in the palm of his hand, tends to favor the comic side, making an extended meal out of an egg-eating visual gag. But he also draws on down-to-earth Jewish wisdom to keep family hostilities from boiling over and spoiling the financial negotiations. "With used furniture you cannot be emotional," he wisely advises, although whenever he's called, it's always an emotional crisis. "It's either a divorce or somebody died."
Linda Winer, Newsday: After radical, dazzling director-driven revivals of Miller's "A View From the Bridge" and "The Crucible," not to mention the profoundly stripped-down rethinking of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie," it feels almost novel - at least, quietly reassuring - to have a lesser-known Miller work presented with down-the-middle sensibilities and expert care.
Christopher Kelly, NJ.com: The actors are everything you might hope for with such a starry cast, intelligent and moving and honest, with particular props due to DeVito (in his Broadway debut) and Shalhoub. Solomon is the play's most comic figure, and DeVito scores serious laughs -- just watch him work slapstick wonders with a hard-boiled egg which he never seems to stop chewing. But the diminutive actor also conveys extraordinary gravity and mystery. What could have been played as stereotype and broad shtick ends up being a fascinating study of a man whose entire life has been about negotiation and dissembling. You'll be debating the meaning of his final laugh during the car ride home.
Stephen Suskin, Huffington Post: Ruffalo is likable, honest and direct, more plebeian than the other Victors I have seen (although I did not see Pat Hingle, who had already left the original production before I got there). Shalhoub, the former TV actor who has demonstrated his stage-worthiness with searing performances in Golden Boy and Act One, is a marvel as the successful brother. Walter almost sheens with success, on the surface; but the actor from the first allows us to see the depths that work beneath. Shalhoub can express his character's psychology by simply buttoning and unbuttoning his suit jacket; by play's end, he is gnawing at his fingernails.
Nicole Serratore, The Stage: With contrived accents and mannered performances, Terry Kinney's production of Arthur Miller's The Price lacks genuine dramatic punch. The tension in this family drama does not accrete, with each performer working against each other in tone and approach.
Matt Windman, amNY: "The Price" can easily come off as slow and hokey today, but director Terry Kinney (co-founder of Chicago's famous Steppenwolf Theatre Company), achieves a fine balance between Ruffalo, Shalhoub and Hecht's raw, accusatory battling and DeVito's spirited, minutely-detailed character acting.
Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: Kinney's production features a haunting set by Derek McLane (richly lit by David Weiner), wherein stuff hangs pointlessly in the air, just as your stuff probably hangs over the heads of your kids. I think Kinney's direction fundamentally understands the currency of this play. Hecht, for example, clearly gets the quiet trauma of what is being bought and sold, and both Ruffalo and Shalhoub have individual vulnerability, even if you don't always believe they are in this, for better or worse, as brothers. It's in the long, late-in-the-play argument that things are rougher: Shalhoub, in particular, feels prepackaged and overly slick in his admonitions and truisms, which is a reasonable approach to this character, but a choice that impacts the spontaneity of what we are watching.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter: Continuing Roundabout's long history with Miller's work, this is a very solid, sensitively directed production of a flawed but rewarding play. It's no Death of a Salesman, but it still has much to say about capitalism and its costs to the striving American family.