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Broadway review: Danny DeVito steals a revival of Arthur Miller's The Price

The Price
Photograph: Joan Marcus

★★★

The current revival of  Arthur Miller’s The Price is the 1968 drama’s fifth Broadway production—tied with Death of a Salesman and A View from the Bridge, one fewer than The Crucible but two more than All My Sons. Its popularity may be partly due to cost-effectiveness: The play touches on some of the same concerns as Miller’s more famous works—loyalty, sacrifice, family mythology. stubborn men with forbearing wives—but in one long scene on a single set, performed by just four actors. Such economy, however, poses a challenge; it requires a level of focus that Roundabout Theatre Company’s production, directed by Terry Kinney, only sometimes delivers.

Victor (Mark Ruffalo), a working-class cop, blames his estranged brother, the well-heeled Walter (Tony Shalhoub), for abandoning him and their broken father during the Great Depression. When they meet to sell the old man’s furniture, it’s the first time they’ve seen each other since his death 16 years earlier. Harsh words are spoken; old wounds bleed afresh. Ruffalo and Jessica Hecht, as Victor’s frustrated wife, do creditable work, but Shalhoub falters; although he is persuasive at first, when Walter floats on silky smarm, his emotional scenes have a tinny ring. The play winds up in the pocket of Danny DeVito, making his Broadway debut as a charming old ganef of a furniture dealer. With so much character and history compressed into his small body, he is a good match for the play. After dominating the first act, DeVito mostly disappears for the second, and the revival’s energy flags without him. Only when he’s onstage does The Price seem right.

American Airlines Theatre (Broadway). By Arthur Miller. Directed by Terry Kinney. With Mark Ruffalo, Tony Shalhoub, Jessica Hecht, Danny DeVito. Running time: 2hrs 25mins. One intermission. Through May 7. Click here for full venue and ticket information.

Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam

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