Thursday, April 17, 2008

Robert Prosky in The Price by Arthur Miller

As some of you know, I have a hate-hate relationship with the theater. I am very uncomfortable, and usually unhappy, when viewing a play. I have convinced myself, falsely, that I would be much better than any actor, in any role, and should be up there treading the boards. Lady Macbeth? I'd slay. Othello? That's me. Hell; I could play Othello AND Iago.

My top layer understands that I'm lying to myself, but it's strongly felt.

Anyway, last night, I shot over to Theater J to see Robert Prosky in Arthur Miller's The Price. Miller often said that the Gregory Solomon character was his favourite creation, and Prosky is my favourite living stage actor. So it seemed I could bite the bullet and get over myself and just give in to the theater-going experience. Besides, the reviews were good, and Prosky was acting with his two sons -- had to be special.

I enjoyed myself immensely. And I saw and learned some things.

(1) I'm right -- I could be up there. I saw a fine, easily-accepted performance by a Prosky [won't name him] that nevertheless came from a Carol Burnett show somewhere. A good, subtle Carol Burnett show, but maybe you get what I'm talking about. Representational and not real, although at least honourably in service of the play.

(2) One notch up was another Prosky brother. He gave a performance that was, on occasion, real, and that served the play and the story well.

and

(3) Some people just Get It. Robert Prosky is an awe-inspiring actor.

He was inhabiting a role around which a play turns, and a role that drives others, but is largely comic relief -- sometimes broad comic relief. And he was an actor easily, and kinda obviously, digging into a bag of tricks. I don't think he even tried to hide it -- hell, when you're in an intimate, small theater a few feet from . .. . ME . . . why try to hide it?

Yet he was note-perfect. He was real, and really there, as Gregory Solomon. He didn't act -- he just was. It was presentation at its best: "I'm angry; you can watch if you want. I'm funny; you can watch if you want." He served nothing up to his audience, he just lived for two hours and twenty minutes, and let us watch him. All while serving a story and a play.

I never saw Koufax pitch, but I have seen Robert Prosky BE Willy Loman. I can also say that I've seen him BE Gregory Solomon.

Not a bad night. . . .

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