As straightforward a drama as it seems to be, it’s harder than you’d think to make Arthur Miller’s The Price really land with the impact it deserves. And I think that may be because of all his signature plays, it features the least active plot. Oh it has encounters (that’s mainly what it has), and there’s a second act point where revelations and realizations pile on, one after another, but in terms of story, there’s not a lot of movement. This is a play of long monologues surrounded by emotional exchanges, and as such, it really depends upon the inner life the actors bring to their characters, and many are the ways they can be played.
All by way of saying I’ve never seen The Price fail, exactly, but I have seen it fail to rise to its heights, and sometimes never rise higher than Well, that was okay. I’m happy to report, though, that there are no shortfalls in Terry Kinney’s new production for the Roundabout at the American Airlines Theatre, which perhaps takes the play to its hottest level ever.
Finally there’s Danny DeVito as the old man; this is the sweetheart role that everyone remembers, because the character is so dear and so funny. DeVito, mall of stature, large of comic persona, brings to the part his own natural feistiness as well, which imbues the occasion with a kind of insistence it might not otherwise have, and that raises the stakes on issues between the brothers needing to be aired.