Theatre Review: The Price at ICT

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Theatre Review: The Price at ICT

Elyse Mirto as Esther and David Nevell as Victor in International City Theatre's production of Arthur Miller’s The Price

Elyse Mirto as Esther and David Nevell as Victor in International City Theatre's production of Arthur Miller’s The Price

Photo by Tracey Roman

Elyse Mirto as Esther and David Nevell as Victor in International City Theatre's production of Arthur Miller’s The Price

Photo by Tracey Roman

Photo by Tracey Roman

Elyse Mirto as Esther and David Nevell as Victor in International City Theatre's production of Arthur Miller’s The Price

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How do we put a price on our old, used furniture, much of which holds sentimental value but some of which is now too outdated for modern residences?

That is the essential question at the center of Arthur Miller’s The Price, in which 50-year-old New York police sergeant Victor Franz is finally forced to do something he has been putting off for 13 years: return to his childhood home to sell off his family’s beds, sofas, chairs and tables. His parents, who had lived in the brownstone apartment, are long gone, and the building is now scheduled for demolition. The stock-market crash of 1929 had left his widowed father a broken man– and left Victor and his brother, Walter, to care for him.

Ever since his father’s death, Victor has been procrastinating on the task of dealing with the furniture, which brings up an even bigger query: how do we separate our emotional attachments to objects in order to move on?

By Victor’s side, attempting to push him to choose a more fulfilling direction in life, is his loving but increasingly impatient wife, Esther.

However, perhaps the most crucial question Miller poses in the play is: how do we move on when the memories and relationships we hold dear are based on long-held beliefs that turn out to be falsehoods?

In International City Theatre’s production of the 1968 play, under the work of scenic designer Yuri Okahana, those furniture pieces are stacked precariously atop each other in what looks like a jungle gym of sorts. They are not merely set pieces though; they are the set. They also serve as a collective symbol for the big issues Victor (David Nevell) and his wealthy surgeon brother Walter (Bo Foxworth) have not yet addressed. The brothers must now face the undertaking, but it has opened up old resentments and unsettling revelations about their father.

With his strained gait and lively Russian-Yiddish accent, Tony Abatemarco gives a stunning performance as the 90-year-old furniture dealer Gregory Solomon; I’d thought he was playing a man close to his own age, but, judging by his head shot in the program, his character is actually considerably older than he.

His is certainly not the only impressive performance, however. Nevell and Elyse Mirto, as Esther, seem to have such an easy-going, familiar relationship, and their New York accents are authentic and avoid caricature. Foxworth embodies Walter’s arc well– first, presenting him as the self-possessed success story, then revealing him as the guilt-ridden brother who had escaped from a complicated mess that is unearthed in the second act.

Before facing their familial duties, Victor and Walter must confront the big prices they have paid for their major life decisions.

The Price continues at International City Theatre, 330 E. Seaside Wy. in Long Beach, through May 26. More information is available at (562) 436-4610 and internationalcitytheatre.org.