The Price, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

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The Independent Culture

Everything comes at a price. Careers, relationships, families – even the jumble of unwanted furniture amidst which this absorbing and superbly paced piece of theatre is enacted. It all costs; sooner or later we all must pay.

The question of how we go about picking up the tab, and at what impact to ourselves and those around us is at the core of this 1968 Arthur Miller play powerfully brought to life in a joint production between three leading regional theatres, Scarborough's Stephen Joseph, the Octagon Bolton and Hull Truck.

Director David Thacker knew the late playwright and even worked with him on an earlier production in which Miller advised that at the core of the work is hope and generosity rather than cynicism and greed.

It would be easy to play it the other way. Tom Mannion is career cop Victor Franz. With only 19 arrests to his name after 28 years in the policing slow lane, he gave up on a career in science to support his father. Wiped out in the Depression, the old man was part of the Manhattan smart set but gave up on life when Wall Street crashed. His chair, still bearing the physical imprint of his defeated ghost, commands centre stage throughout.

Victor and his unfulfilled wife Esther, played by Susan Sylvester, are busy arguing over the shortcomings of their life together before the action steps up with the arrival of Kenneth Alan Taylor's furniture assessor Gregory Solomon. Fate has delivered him to price up Franz senior's belongings, which must be sold as the family apartment in which they have been residing is about to be demolished. Solomon holds up a mirror to the cop's – and society's – obsession with disposability. But it is when long-lost brother Walter, a doctor played by Colin Stinton, drops by, that the interplay of characters really starts to fizz. This production is of the very highest quality.

To 30 April (01723 370 541); then 9 to 14 May, Hull Truck Theatre (01482 323638)

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