"You wanted a real life. And that's an expensive thing. It costs!"
REVIEW - SoCal.com
"The first thing one notices is Set Designer Jeff Rack’s richly decorated stage filled with antique treasures which were lovingly loaned out by a local antique shop. The result is a production infused with the thick air of authenticity and decadence.
Actor MARVIN KAPLAN, with his 60-year career after being discovered by Katharine Hepburn in 1949, makes the comedic tread of Arthur Miller’s play come to life through his full embodiment of his character, the tireless (well, up until the need for a little snack) performance as appraiser Gregory Solomon. Pair the role of Solomon with the high strung, had-it-up-to-here role of Esther Franz played with dynamic grace by DIANNE TRAVIS and you have a two time Tony Award Winner for Best Play rising off the page into life once more for the sheer joy of Theatre West patrons.
CAL BARTLETT, as the soon to retire policeman Victor Franz, gives a steadfast performance as his character tries to come to terms with the past and what could have been if things were different. The laughter ignites as Victor and Solomon banter back and forth. Solomon breaks the tension by saying, “I realize that you are a factual person. But some facts are funny”. Actor DON MOSS as Victor Franz’s successful brother Walter further drives the question of the play, “What is the price of letting go of the past?” The result is a successful, thought-provoking play about regret, forgiveness and the people and situations that shape our lives along the way."
REVIEW - Examiner.com
[Marvin Kaplin's] comic gem of a performance—which can only be described as a master class in acting—is what really lifts this show into the MUST-SEE CATEGORY.
THE PRICE by Arthur Miller
Directed by Stu Berg
Produced by Mark Travis
With Cal Bartlett, Marvin Kaplan, Don Moss and Dianne Travis
FEB 12 - MARCH 21, 2010
Fri, Sat at 8pm. Sun at 2pm.
Two brothers, one wife and an antique dealer confront each other over the price of furniture, choices, decisions, materialism, family relationships, and demons from the past.
REVIEW - Tolucan Times
Playwright Arthur Miller’s characters and in-depth, highly-acclaimed lengthy plays have captured audiences worldwide for many decades. Exposing human nature and the complex “games people play” to achieve the “American Dream,” his nearly 30 scripts have garnered multiple Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize. He once said that he thought theatre could change the world. Loving theatre as I do, I believe there is much truth to that thought. Every production I see (good or bad), which is about 150 a year, adds “something” to my overall life experience. New facts, history, concepts, lifestyles, viewpoints, decadence, humor or considerations avail themselves every time the lights go down and a story unfolds.
Written by Miller in 1968, this play looks at the “price” people pay for the choices they make throughout their lives. Taking place in 1967 in the cluttered attic of a soon-to-be demolished family home, emotional skeletons erupt. Two brothers must sell a lifetime of old furniture and assorted nostalgic “stuff,” the property of their deceased parents (great set by Jeff Rack!).
Under the capable and character-focused direction of Stu Berg, an excellent cast of four veteran actors offer strong performances (not an easy task, as this is a three hour journey…). Two feuding senior brothers, who haven’t seen each other in 16 years, meet again to handle this volatile and daunting chore. Victor (Cal Bartlett), a nearly retired cop, once a promising student of science, gave up his dreams many years ago to care for his invalid father… much to his wife’s disapproval (Dianne Travis). Though their devotion has survived Victor’s long suffering “choice,” it has always challenged their relationship. His callous brother Walter (Don Moss), an eminent surgeon, deserted the family responsibilities through the years and now comes face to face with Victor, regarding the property disposal. This forced reconciliation spurs a revealing and explosive confrontation, as each man must face the “price” each has had to pay for the life choices they’ve made. An 89-year-old Russian/Jewish furniture dealer has been summoned to appraise and buy the entire attic’s contents… and the “games” begin.
Marvin Kaplan nearly steals the show as the savvy, but ailing, quirky and bumbling Mr. Solomon! Unexpectedly caught up in the midst of his family’s burning issues, while trying to “make a deal,” he is non-stop delight! Marvin, a highly-visible stage and screen character for some 60 years, having been discovered by Katherine Kepburn in 1949, is quite a guy! Though the inevitable physical setbacks of aging have challenged him in recent years, his wit, intelligence, sense of humor, talent and “love-ability” are everlasting!
REVIEW - Don Grigware
"Theatre West's FINE REVIVAL merits our attention and respect."
"This is a dream role for KAPLAN, whose talent and remarkably original sense of humor have served him well in the business for 82 years. He gives us a slow-moving, but quick witted, deliciously wise and reflective man who knows how to look out for himself by clinching the perfect deal. What a likeable con artist! A BRAVURA PERFORMANCE!" ~ Don Grigware
"DIANNE TRAVIS as Victor's wife Esther is simply MARVELOUS. She is gutsy, beautiful and thoroughly real, especially convincing in her downtrodden weariness, almost A FEMALE WILLY LOMAN."
REVIEW - Jesther Entertainment
"DEFTLY DIRECTED by Stu Berg with SKILLED ENSEMBLE ACTING by an able cast"
REVIEW - Arts Beat LA
Offering plenty of comic relief is the wonderful performance by Marvin Kaplan. He plays the wily Russian-Jewish – almost nonagenarian – antique dealer who puffs up the stairs during Act One to strike a deal with Vic and Esther on the various pieces of furniture and other assorted contents. With his blustering and prevaricating, as well as hilarious double takes, Kaplan gives a fantastic comedic performance that skirts caricature. The rest of the cast acquit themselves well with this wonderful piece of drama.
REVIEW - Connected Interactive
The Price Theater Review: A Stellar Performance by Theatre West in Los Angeles [video]
In the great debate as to who is the greatest playwright of the 20th century I always placed Arthur Miller in the top five but never in the top two but The Price makes me question that choice. A Death of a Salesman is an American classic but the themes that percolate throughout that play also percolate throughout The Price but in a more humorous and genial way.
The play is centered on the selling of antique furniture that has been collecting dust on the top floor of a Manhattan brownstone that is about to be torn down. Two brothers, who haven’t spoken in years, have claim to the furniture. One brother left the family and pursued an education and became financially successful. The other brother dropped out of college, cared for his father and joined the police force. Naturally, as the play progresses the family dynamic becomes more interesting and the past more complicated. The central question is ‘what is the price of letting go of the past?’ but I think a better question is ‘what is the emotional price of clinging to the past?’ The brothers enter the top floor where the old furniture is being stored and lovingly touch and reminisce about the old days. They think all the furniture is worth a great deal. But when a funny furniture dealer walks in and surveys their belongings he gives them a surprising price.
The two brothers, Victor Franz and Walter Franz, are played by Cal Bartlett and Don Moss respectively. Victor Franz’s wife, Esther Franz, is played by Dianne Travis. All three turn out impeccable performances. But the show stealer is Marvin Kaplan who plays Gregory Solomon. Marvin Kaplan plays a furniture dealer with an interesting accent and a mischievous grin. Marvin Kaplan was discovered by Katharine Hepburn and he has enjoyed a 60-year career as a character actor. He brings a humorous touch to a serious topic – the price of family drama.
The Price is directed by Stu Berg and his directorial skill is evident. He brings Arthur Miller’s play to brimming life. In fact, the production was so well done that I decided that The Price is probably a better play than Death of a Salesman. Stu Berg manages to get the actors to accentuate the warm qualities of each character and seems to encourage emotional rawness at the appropriate time.
The Price is well worth the admission ticket. The Price is currently playing at Theatre West. Theatre West is a small theater but their productions are focused on quality plays and riveting acting. Video is below.
REVIEW - Valley SceneMagazine
By Judi Uthus
Why perform Arthur Miller's The Price in the 21st century? What patron conditioned to the 21st century's sound bytes and flash would appreciate a single-set, four-character, two-plus-hour play drenched in dialogue?
One with a family might.
A classic American drama, not as well-known as the playwright's Death of a Salesman, Tony-award winning The Price is considered by Miller fans to be one of his most poignant plays. Centered on issues of aging parent care, sibling rivalry and economic roller coasters, The Price is just as relevant today as when it was first produced in 1968, maybe even more so as our aging society faces economic hardship and families rely on each other once again. Miller spotlights the value of these relationships and how they can create conflict with personal paths and choices.
Despite its relevance to the present, this 60's version of Arrested Development could only engage today's audience with an exceptional performance. Theatre West's Stu Berg is directing The Price for a second time using the company's seasoned stars from stage, screen and television to accomplish the flamboyant theatrics of Miller's entertaining play.
The play opens with Vic, a policeman who sacrificed higher education to care for his father while his brother completed his education and became a successful doctor. Sixteen years after his father's death he is in the attic of their old home designated for tear down, waiting for an antique dealer to liquidate the estate's furniture. He amuses himself playing an old record of laugh tracks, which sets the stage for the uncontainable emotions that will erupt when he, his wife Esther, brother Walter, and even the antique dealer Gregory confront each other over the value of not only the furniture but of life's choices and family relationships. As Miller notes, "What is the price of letting go of the past?"
Played by Cal Bartlett, Vic's demons take center stage as he revisits the attic from his past while facing decisions of retirement that are just around future's corner. Bartlett's dialogue-laden role is weighty, yet he delivers it with compelling style. Accelerating the play's momentum is character actor Marvin Kaplan who plays the 89-year old antique dealer Gregory Solomon and befriends the policeman. His animated character, a hybrid of Mr. Magoo and Elmer Fudd, is wery entertaining indeed. Not only is he fun to know but his sage insights extend beyond the pricing of items in the old attic to thought provoking assessments of life itself. In discussing the value of the solid, quality dining table too large to get through most modern apartment doors, the old dealer tells Vic why it will be hard to sell, "This table represents one that won't break--there are no more possibilities left. When a man sits at a sturdy table like this, he knows he will have to stay married."
The roles of Esther played by Dianne Travis and Walter played by Don Ross are convincingly real and demonstrate traits of relatives that the audience can undoubtedly compare to their own family members. The confrontations between husband and wife and the two brothers examine the price paid for their decisions and the quality of life that results from those decisions. Vic responds to his brother after listening to his opinion of his life, "What are you saying, I'm a 60-year old mistake?"
What makes The Price great theater is how Miller extracts the complexities of individual character in forming relations. Theatre West placed their spotlight perfectly on a story that will never become obsolete as long as we have family. The play runs through March 21. Theatre West is located at 3333 Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood. For tickets call 323-851-4839 or visit www.theatrewest.org