Timeline has done it again! This amazing theater company brings the seldom done “The Price” by Arthur Miller to its stage. This play is one that goes into our pasts as two brothers must come to terms with the “stuff” left behind by their father. It is more than just a family situation though. It is about choices we make, some of our own mindset and others due to circumstances beyond their control. Smoothly directed by Louis Contey on a set designed by Brian Sidney Bembridge, who also designed the lighting, this is a striking play that concentrates on the personalities of the two estranged brothers , Victor (a powerful Bret Tuomi, thru October 18th who will be followed by Timeline regular Terry Hamilton after he leaves “October Sky” at Marriott) and Walter (deftly handled by Roderick Peeples). They have not spoken in many years, but as we learn during the story is that Walter, a successful physician has enjoyed his success while Victor, a NYC cop dropped out of school to keep his father away from welfare lines during the depression.
As the story starts, Victor is at the apartment of his father in a building that is about to be torn down. The plan is to sell all of the contents of their lives to one person and get the cash. His wife, Esther (a solid performance by Kymberly Mellen) feels that he should take all of the money so that he can go back to school as he retires from the police force and they can start living the life they should have had in years past. In comes the antique dealer, Gregory Solomon ( the always reliable Mike Nussbaum, who was born to play this role, even though he is a younger man at 89 years of age) who as it turns out was called through his ad in the yellow pages ( what are these you might ask if you are young- they are the written version of Google” from yesteryear). Turns out it was an old phone book and Solomon thought he had retired- the excitement generated from his meeting with Victor and Esther makes him come alive and get back into the game. If you have never seen Nussbaum on stage, you owe it to yourself to buy a ticket for this masterpiece. (I smell a Jeff Award for best supporting actor for this one).
What you get with Miller’s words are a true look at what happens when one makes sacrifices for what appears to be the good of the family. It also shows us that success cannot be measured by what you own, but instead who you are and how others look at you. Many who watch Miller’s works over and over recognize that he uses his family and extended family to represent his characters. They seem real because for him they were real. The times were real as well. Wars, depression, family problems, political beliefs and actual events in history are relative to his story-lines and plots. Our antique dealer refers to the world becoming more “disposable” as things can just be thrown away when we are done with them. This is even truer today then it was back in Miller’s day. Can people be considered “disposable” as well? Do we drain what we need out of them before tossing them aside? In many cases, the answer is yes! And “The Price”, may just be the costs to us for the choices we make.
In this story we see that all of the success that the older brother had in life at the expense of his brother Victor failed to bring him the happiness that he had hoped it would. On the other hand, Victor, because of the nature of the old antique dealer, begins to see that his life choices are not as bad as he had thought they were. The only hard part of the performance was that it was quite warm and muggy this evening and the theater has no air conditioning, so while I strongly suggest that you see this one, I suggest that you dress very comfortably for the 2 1/2 hours of sheer magic onstage. While the cast and direction are amazing- the technical parts of this production are wonderful as well. This is a prop show (Mary O’Dowd and Amy Peter are magicians) with wall to wall and floor to ceiling items. They even have a contest so you can try to guess the actual value of what you see. Andrew Hansen’s sound and Sarah Jo White’s costumes all made for the total production being one that one should make a point of seeing.
“The Price” will continue at Timeline Theatre located at 615 W. Wellington (at Broadway) through November 22nd with performances as follows:
Wednesdays 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 4 and 8 p.m.
Sundays 2 p.m.
No show on Friday, November 20th
There is a performance on Tuesday, November 17th at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for this open seating production range from $28-$51 a bargain for theater of this quality and can be ordered by calling 773-281-8463 or online at www.timelinetheatre.com
There are discounts for students and military/veterans and open discussion groups are available on specific dates (check website).
Street parking is available, some metered and some not and discount parking is available at lots: Broadway Center 2846 N. Broadway or Century Mall 2836 N. Clark Street ( bring tickets to theater for validation)
Enjoy dinner at The Bagel (great Chicago deli) and park in their lot. Public transportation is easy as pie.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “The Price”