Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury so beautifully presented the late Arthur Miller’s “The Price,” that I couldn’t help comparing it to Miller’s first production of the play. He had written about how difficult the production had been in his book, “Timebends.” The actors and director could not get along. It got so bad that Miller had to end up directing the show himself. As if that wasn’t problematic enough, one of the leads was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery just before previews and the understudy stepped in on opening night.
It is quite apparent that such problems were not the case with the Seven Angels’ production from director Semina DeLaurentis’s letter in the playbill. She thanked her “wonderful” cast. That cast and crew worked in great harmony is evident in the brilliant performances that are rendered here. The story is about two estranged brothers who come almost as close as Cain and Able in their affection for each other. Though they don’t physically kill each other, there is no doubt that their relationship is dead at the end of this fabulous play. They are reunited when they have to split up the furniture and memorabilia in their late father’s jam-packed attic.
The set, designed well by Daniel Husvar, captured the cluttered attic by stacking chairs on top of each other and cramming in everything from a harp, couch, table and other pieces of furniture. There are also items that the two brothers remembered well like an oar and a fencing mask. The most tender moments were when they reminisced about using some of these items. There was hope then that the two might finally put their differences aside. At first when the two brothers were reunited, there was an attempt at camaraderie, even though a taut tension is felt immediately in the riveting performances of Charlie Kevin as Victor and Jon Krupp as Walter. Victor is a policeman who is considering retirement. Walter is a successful surgeon.
Both brothers were brilliant, with the policeman holding the most promise. However, he sacrificed his college and career in science to take care of his father. There is deep-rooted resentment between both brothers and that resentment ebbs and flows in this meeting. Victor’s wife Esther, played with genuine wifely concerns by Denise Walkert, tries to be a peace-maker. Esther also realizes that her husband tends to be generous to a fault and is surprised that he is willing to sell all of the contents of the attic to Solomon, played superbly by favorite regular R. Bruce Connelly, who showed just how talented he is as an actor with the versatility he demonstrated in this production. In this play, Connelly is not the usual comic clown. He does add humor when the tension becomes unbearable between the brothers, but he is not a comic this time around.
Directed by Semina DeLaurentis, who is also the artistic director of Seven Angels, this was a masterful production of a play that exemplifies Arthur Miller’s genius. Matt Guminski’s lighting and Matt Martin’s sound design accented all the pivotal moments in this play. This show was award-winning caliber and ranks as one of the most outstanding productions of the year.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association, and covers art and culture in a blog for CBS and CBS-CT. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]