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.
The Price, directed by Susan Wilson, opens at Circa Theatre on August 10. For information, call 801 7992, or visit circa.co.nz.
The wisdom of Solomon: Ray Henwood, foreground, Christopher Brougham, left, and Gavin Rutherford.