The Price

Theatre Royal Bath

Until August 28

LIFE is all about choices - but how often do we consider the price we have paid for making them?

What happens when someone looks back on the choices they made and the price paid and then tries to see them from another person's point of view?

When that other person is your sibling, all too often the microscope of self-examination gets clouded by child and adult jealousies, real or imagined insults and 'mis-remembering'.

Arthur Miller wrote this play in 1968, and admitted it contained some autobiographical elements from the American Depression of his childhood.

Although some of the text is now rather dated, prompting a page of notes in the programme relating the figures given to modern-day monetary values to help the audience understand their impact on the action, the emotions laid bare during the action will still be all-too-relevant to many people.

Estranged brothers Victor and Walter Franz meet in the furniture-crowded attic of the former family home, to try and sell its contents to a dealer - an action they have avoided for 16 years since their father's death, but now have to complete before the house is demolished.

Unsurprisingly, it turns into an evening of recriminations, accusations and revelations.

This is very much a play of two halves. The first, mainly a two-hander between Victor, played by Brendan Coyle and veteran dealer - sorry, appraiser - Gregory Solomon, a lovely performance from David Suchet, is full of comic lines, characters who are almost caricatures (did any Labour party members in the audience feel uncomfortable at the extremity of the Jewish stereotyping?) and settled the audience into a quiet mood of relaxed enjoyment.

The second half, when Victor and Walter, played by Adrian Lukis, clash heads over their 'inheritance', is a tour-de-force of emotion, with shocks aplenty.

Both actors turn in terrific performances, so convinced they are in the right that your sympathy swings from one to the other in the blink of an eye. Sara Stewart, as Victor's wife Esther, mirrors our reactions.

Part of the theatre's Summer Season, this is a thought-provoking evening, possibly more demanding than some of the audience were expecting.

Alison Phillips