Barry Wisdom

Elisabeth Nunziato, left, David Pierini and Brian Dykstra in B Street's taut production of Arthur Miller's "The Price."

Theater review: B3 Stage reaches high with excellent 'The Price'

Published: Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 12TICKET

If you've ever seen members of a great basketball team working together, you understand a physical poetry unlike any other.

Imagine Magic Johnson leading a fast break with James Worthy and Byron Scott on the wings. All great players, but together, as Aristotle once said, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

Those Lakers, called "Showtime," seem an apt analogy to "The Price" at the B Street Theatre, which could be called "Theatertime."

Director Buck Busfield has revived Arthur Miller's 1968 four-character "The Price," stocking the B3 Stage drama with an ensemble of superior actors who create a spellbinding night of theater. David Pierini, Brian Dykstra, David Silberman and Elisabeth Nunziato populate the play, which takes place in one room in the real time of two hours.

The "price" of the play's title refers to several ideas in the narrative, but mostly it's about what people end up paying for the choices they make. Pierini's Victor is a New York City cop on the verge of retirement – or at least his wife, Esther (Nunziato), wants him to be. Victor wanted a career in science but put that dream on hold to support and take care of his father, who lost his fortune in the stock market crash of 1929. He and Esther have come to the father's old apartment to sell the family furniture.

Esther seems like the most interesting character of them all. She drinks a little more than she should, perhaps because she put away her ambitions for a life less normal when Victor joined the police force. Nunziato invests her loyalty to him and hope for their future with a vibrant urgency. Dykstra's Walter, on the other hand, went off to college and became an extremely successful surgeon in the city. He turns up unexpectedly at the old apartment hoping to make his peace with his brother Victor.

The familiar but explosive dynamic between the two estranged siblings revolves around who sacrificed for the family and who didn't. The fascinating complexity of the play, though, lies in the accusations of selfishness and assumptions of victimhood that aren't nearly as obvious or simple as they initially seem.

Besides the personal cost of their life choices, "The Price" also refers to what Silberman's appraiser, Gregory, will offer for the family possessions. The veteran actor Silberman has become a local treasure, never more sublime than he is here, slyly slipping in and out of the desperate, primal family dispute.

As the story unfolds in the apartment (Samantha Reno designed the wonderfully askew set) the actors sink into the heart of what theater can be.

Pierini's intractable Victor and Dykstra's realistic Walter are brothers with a hopelessly convoluted past. We see real people, complicated and flawed, trying to extend beyond themselves and perhaps rectify mistakes. They fumble with simple aspirations within their grasp, and we lean forward, hoping they will somehow reach them.


The Price

Four stars

What: Arthur Miller's 1968 family drama receives a revival from B Street Theatre with Dave Pierini, Brian Dykstra, Elisabeth Nunziato and David Silberman. Buck Busfield directs.

When: Continuing at 7 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays and 8 p.m. Saturdays through Nov. 3. Call the box office for selected matinees.

Where: B Street Theatre's B3 Stage, 2727 B St.

Cost: $23-$35

Running time: Two hours and 15 minutes, including one intermission.

Information:

(916) 443-5300, www.bstreettheatre.org

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Read more articles by Marcus Crowder



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