Review - The Price starring David Suchet at Wyndham's Theatre
London is in the midst of a mini-Arthur Miller season - this week will also see the opening of a new production of The American Clock at the Old Vic, directed by the American director Rachel Chavkin, while down the street at the Young Vic Marianne Elliott and Miranda Cromwell will co-direct Death of a Salesman in May.
But first, there's this exemplary revival of Arthur Miller's 1968 slow-burning family drama The Price, transferring in a production first seen at Bath Theatre Royal last year. The play has been revived on Broadway four times in the half-century since its original production, most recently with Danny DeVito in 2017 in the role of an ageing assessor coming to the Manhattan apartment of a man who died 16 years earlier, whose son now wants to dispose of his possessions and get a decent price for some of the more valuable items, before the building is demolished.
It's this role that's a treat for senior actors to inhabit - and here it duly gets the luxury casting of stage and screen veteran David Suchet, who clearly relishes every moment. (And there's plenty of scenery for him to chew if he wants to in Simon Higlett's amazing vertiginous design of furniture hanging from every beam). The last time I saw this play in the West End, in a 2003 revival that transferred from the Tricycle to the Apollo, it starred the late Warren Mitchell.
It's a feast of a part - and yet it isn't ultimately the dramatic anchor of a play that revolves around the unresolved resentments of the man's two sons, who watched their father being ruined by the Depression. As a cop approaching 50 and considering retirement, Brendan Coyle's Victor was forced to abandon his plans to go to college, while his brother Adrian Lukis's Walter went on to become a successful surgeon.
Now today, as the contents of their father's home are being sold off, they replay past sacrifices and a mutual sense of guilt. As directed by Jonathan Church, the play is strong, absorbing stuff; and it is played to a delicate, nuanced perfection here by a cast that also includes Sara Stewart as Victor's wife, who frequently seeks refuge in alcohol.
It's a tale of parental legacies and disappointed lives that's powerful, pertinent and well worth seeing.
The Price tickets are available now.