Triad Stage Evaluates Cost of Living in the Price
When it comes to the true cost of living—the consequences of our actions—singer Janice Joplin said it best, “You’re only as much as you settle for.” There’s a fine line between responsibility and self-sacrifice, resentment and regret. And at the end of the day, whom can we blame for our miseries but ourselves? Playwright Arthur Miller knew this all too well while crafting his 1968 drama The Price .
In the intimate production family secrets and rivalries are revealed when two brothers who led very different lives are forced to unite to settle their late father’s estate. In Triad Stage’s opening-night production last Friday, Miller’s family drama came to life and begged the audience to contemplate, “What is a life worth, what consequences does a decision demand, and what is the balance due on a moral debt?”
Besides a few bumps in dialogue, which can be expected on an opening night, the Triad Stage debut cast did a phenomenal job drawing the audience in and keeping them invested in a complex conversation. Dina Ann Comolli , who performs as the wife of one of the two brothers, encapsulated a loyal, but desperately exacerbated wife of the 1960s.
Christopher Gerson (Victor Franz) gave a solid performance throughout as a security guard who gave up his future when he chose to quit school and care for his unemployed father. I could feel his understated frustration and resentment, and when it came time to argue with his brother, who chose to abandon the family in pursuit of a medical career, I found myself taking his side and arguing on his behalf.
Robert Zukerman , who performed as the 89-year-old antiques dealer, stole the show as the loveable, comic relief. As a, “registered, certified and even vaccinated” used furniture dealer, Zukerman’s character, Gregory Solomon, not only adds the much-needed warmth and captivating friendliness to the play, but also his wisdom of age.
Of course, as with all of its productions, Triad Stage turned the set of the rundown New York flat on its head. Instead of merely crowding the stage with pieces of furniture to give an old, cramped and cluttered feel, scenic designer Fred Kinney instead created a ceiling of antique chairs, trunks, stools and lamps. The stage itself was framed by chests, dining-room tables and nightstands, and even more worn furniture filled three holes in the stage. The sunken furniture helped to highlight Victor’s regret of “sinking with his father’s ship,” and of giving up on his dreams and becoming stuck in a stale existence.
I also admired how well the scenic design played with the lighting design and special effects. Lamps were turned on at the precise “ping” of the soundtrack, and soft lighting and a gentle fog created the effect of dust washing over the apartment that hadn’t been touched in 16 years.
Overall, the performance is thought provoking and well executed, though be prepared to pay close attention in the second act, which is a bit more daunting due to the absence of old man Solomon. In the end, like me, you’ll contemplate your own decisions and if there are any you regret, or of which you erroneously place the blame on someone else. Miller’s play makes it very clear that we are the maestros of our own lives and should act accordingly. If we don’t like where we are, change it—it’s certainly within our power.
Triad Stage performs The Price this week through Feb. 19 at the Pyrle Theatre, 232 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Tickets are $10-$50. For tickets or more information call 336-272-0160 or visit triadstage.org.