I have never read an Arthur Miller play. That includes the two or three times in college I was assigned Death of a Salesman. I don’t know why I passed on it, especially in light of seeing The Price in New York City last week. The production starred Mark Ruffalo, Jessica Hecht, Tony Shalhoub, and Danny DeVito. Going into it I didn’t know anything about plot, themes, or characters, but I was floored.
Put bluntly the play reinforces the notion that no one gets through life unscathed. There is trauma, emotional and otherwise, plaguing each of us. It explores notions of duty and love and family in a way that I found to be powerful and troubling, in particular the question of whether the love that is there is real or an artifice clung to in order to maintain some vision of who we are. Perhaps the fundamental question is: which defines us more, the events of our lives or the ways in which we remember them, the stories we tell ourselves about our lives? Throughout the play I identified with several characters, moving back and forth between them as they made their arguments against one another and the others’ perspective. I’m not a broadway critic and I haven’t seen enough plays to make more nuanced evaluations of the performance, but I was troubled and engaged and I am still thinking about what I saw and what it means a week later. I couldn’t be happier.
TIP: If you are between the ages of 18-35 sign up for Hiptix! Roundabout Theatre Company, a non-profit organization, offers the Hiptix program to provide younger theatergoers with affordable tickets. Several tickets are set aside for various performances and only cost $25. Every time we are planning a visit to NYC we try to schedule around a play at the Roundabout!