The Price of our life choices


Ma­te­rial suc­cess has its cost, and so does ev­ery other as­pi­ra­tion in life.

The Price looks at the choices we make and how much we pay for them.

Al­though Arthur Miller’s ear­lier works, The Cru­cible and Death of a Sales­man, be­came bet­ter known in later years, The Price was a com­mer­cial suc­cess right from the start, de­spite crit­ics’ mis­giv­ings.

Just as The Cru­cible mir­rored the McCarthy-era com­mu­nist hunts with 17th cen­tury witch­hunts, The Price, which was set in the 1960s, has a new sig­nif­i­cance in to­day’s highly con­sumerised so­ci­ety.

On their fa­ther’s death, broth­ers Vic­tor and Wal­ter have come to­gether to di­vide his as­sets, and to con­tem­plate their lives.

When their fa­ther fell on hard times Wal­ter left school to take care of him and Vic­tor con­tin­ued his stud­ies to be­come a suc­cess­ful sur­geon. Now they are both liv­ing with the con­se­quences of those choices, and how much they have cost.

Be­tween them is a man who knows the price of ev­ery­thing, fur­ni­ture dealer Solomon, played by Ray Hen­wood.

He is there to make a deal for the old man’s fur­ni­ture, and to wryly dis­pense the wis­dom of his bib­li­cal name­sake. ‘‘ Ev­ery choice we make, we pay the price of said.

Miller in­vited his au­di­ences to make judge­ments and then chal­lenged those po­si­tions, he said.

‘‘The au­di­ence will come down on one side or the other through­out the play, and they will swap dur­ing the play, too.’’

Each char­ac­ter brought a con­vinc­ing new per­spec­tive, Hen­wood said.

‘‘The best ac­tor will win on the day.

‘‘It’s a very thoughtful, en­gag­ing play, which ev­ery per­son in the au­di­ence will have an an­swer for, and it will change dur­ing the play.’’

Al­though Miller’s in­tense scru­tiny of at­ti­tudes begs au­di­ence to ques­tion he of­fers no moral so­lu­tions. Jude Gib­son plays Vic­tor’s wife. ‘‘ From Wal­ter’s view­point, he be­lieves that as chil­dren they were brought up to suc­ceed, not to be­lieve in one an­other or to love one an­other, but to suc­ceed,’’ she said.

‘‘So it’s in­ter­est­ing to con­sider for one­self your view­point of your own chil­dren. What do you think your up­bring­ing gave you?’’

Watch­ing the two men’s con­flicts, she said she had wit­nessed her own fam­ily do­ing ex­actly the same things.

it,’’ Hen­wood

The Price, di­rected by Su­san Wil­son, opens at Circa Theatre on Au­gust 10. For in­for­ma­tion, call 801 7992, or visit

The wis­dom of Solomon: Ray Hen­wood, fore­ground, Christopher Brougham, left, and Gavin Ruther­ford.

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