Review: The Price, Wyndham’s Theatre ****
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Review: The Price, Wyndham’s Theatre ****

Arthur Miller is a master at drawing troubled relations between male relatives, not least in this lesser-known gem starring David Suchet and Brendan Coyle

David Suchet and Brendan Coyle star in The Price
David Suchet and Brendan Coyle star in The Price

Arthur Miller is a master at drawing troubled relations between male relatives, not least in this lesser-known gem.

A transfer from the Theatre Royal Bath under the direction of Jonathan Church, with a scintillating performance by David Suchet as a Jewish furniture dealer, this production makes a compelling case for the play to have a more frequent airing.

Victor Franz (played by Brendan Coyle, the valet from Downton Abbey) has arrived with his shallow, money-loving wife Esther (Sara Stewart) at his late parents’ New York apartment to get a price for dozens upon dozens of pieces of furniture, which need to be sold. 

Suchet is an utter delight as the unpredictable, thrice-married, 89-year-old Gregory Solomon, who makes a meal of the deal in every sense, sitting himself down on an armchair to eat a boiled egg before calling for his Hershey’s to be brought to him. 

By the time Victor has his much-dreaded encounter with his estranged brother Walter, a wealthy doctor (Adrian Lukis), we are missing Solomon, who is taking a nap in the bedroom.

But as Walter’s story emerges, the twisting relationship between the brothers, and strain between Victor and Esther, keeps the audience absorbed.

Happily, Solomon returns to impart his wisdom: the too-solid furniture he’s being offered won’t fetch as much as Esther hoped, because it denies its owners the 1970s version of the Ikea – or perhaps the Brent Cross – experience. (“Today you’re unhappy? What’s the salvation? Go shopping.”)

The designer Simon Higlett’s literal interpretation of furniture going up the walls, with chairs, chests and mirrors looming over the stage, helps the claustrophobic drama to unfold, and the play has held up incredibly well since 1968, when it was written, and is set.

Belly laughs are guaranteed.

The Price plays at Wyndham’s Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London until 27 April. Details: wyndhamstheatre.co.uk

 

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