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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Price, Royal Lyceum Theatre review

Published in The Guardian

The Price

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh
4 out of 5

Fred Goodwin, the poster boy for the banking crisis, has just landed a high-flying job with an Edinburgh architectural firm. Not everyone is as fortunate as the former RBS chief executive. Some, like the dead father whose memory hangs heavy over Arthur Miller's The Price, lost millions in the Wall Street crash and, in the face of the Great Depression, never recovered. The question Miller poses is how to respond to such a calamity: should we fight egotistically for our own success or should we retrench to the old values of love, trust and selflessness?

It's a dialectic that takes flight in the second half of the play when stay-at-home Victor, who has settled for a job as a police officer rather than fulfil his promise as a scientist, meets his estranged brother Walter, a surgeon who has made a fortune developing and selling nursing homes. Having loaded our sympathy towards Victor, whose ineffectuality has an everyday charm, Miller presents Walter as a self-made man who has refused to romanticise their father's fall. Bright and confident, he makes Victor's dedication to their father seem more pathetic than noble.

In these scenes, John Dove's ­production takes a mesmerising hold. If you can't imagine Greg Powrie's Victor as a former star pupil, he is convincing as a downtrodden man doing the decent thing as his life slips by. In contrast, Aden Gillett's Walter is tall, liberated and radiant, a seductive advert for free-market ambition, despite the breakdown of his marriage and mental health.

His charisma makes Victor's decision to stick to his principles seem as much a gesture of defiance as the victory his name suggests. For that reason, the play lacks the emotional punch of other Miller classics; but it remains a pertinent analysis of our unhealthy love of ­possessions, profit and shopping.

© Mark Fisher 2010

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