BWW Reviews: New Jewish Theatre's Powerful Production of THE PRICE

BWW Reviews: New Jewish Theatre's Powerful Production of THE PRICE

Writer Arthur Miller's The Price is a powerful and engaging work that uses a simple set up to discuss the "price" everyone pays for the decisions they make in life. Each choice we make makes an impact on those around us, often deeper than we're aware of. Though emotionally charged and dramatic, this is also a play that is quite funny at times. The current production by The New Jewish Theatre crackles with the kind of bristling energy we've come to associate with Miller's work, and with exceptional theatre. The Price is definitely worth checking out.

With the impending demolition of his family home just around the corner, police sergeant Victor Franz is faced with the task of selling off the family furniture, which fills the attic to the brim. He contacts the elderly Gregory Solomon, who comes over to assess the situation and see if they can cut a deal. Victor's wife Esther is hoping they get a good price (there's that word again). She's also hoping that Victor will retire from the force so they can start a new life. Victor's estranged brother, Walter, shows up unexpectedly and things start to get complicated. Because, this isn't about the furniture, it's about the underlying issues that have torn these people apart, only to uncomfortably reunite them at this particular moment in time.

Michael James Reed delivers a wonderful performance as Victor, clearly communicating his unease over his turning 50, as well as the expectations that his wife, Esther, keeps heaping up on him. He's at a turning point in his life, but he needs to face up to some of the choices he's made along the way before he can move on. Kelley Weber also does sharp work as his long-suffering wife. Esther feels like they've struggled under an unnecessary burden for too long, and that they deserve more out of life. They probably do, but it's going to require a lot more patience than she initially seems willing to give. Jerry Vogel does splendid work as Walter, Victor's upwardly mobile brother, who happens to be a doctor of some renown. Walter's appearance instantly changes the dynamics, and though he may seem conciliatory, his motives remain suspect, at least to Victor. Their interplay is most revealing. Bobby Miller contributes greatly as Gregory Solomon the furniture dealer, and has some of the funniest and wisest lines.

Bruce Longworth's direction keeps the focus on the volatile family dynamic, but not at the expense of some of the surprisingly amusing material that crops up. It's a smartly conceived balancing act. He's aided in his efforts by the moody lighting of Michael Sullivan and the furniture-crammed scenic design of Mark Wilson (props by Jenny Smith). Michele Friedman-Siler contributes the costumes which fit each character perfectly.

The New Jewish Theatre's production of The Price continues through April 6, 2014. Go see it, and be rewarded with a terrific evening of theatre.

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Chris Gibson Chris has been active in the local theatre scene for over 30 years. In addition to his acting work, he's also contributed as a director, writer and composer. Though, initially a film buff, he grew tired of the sanitized, PG-13 rated blockbusters that were being continually shoved down his throat by the studios. An opportunity to review theatre in St. Louis has grown exponentially with the sudden explosion of venues and talent in the region. He now finds himself obsessed with witnessing those precious, electric moments that can only happen live, on stage.

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