ONE THING can be said in favor of Source Theater's revival of Arthur Miller's "The Price" -- they've certainly got the atmosphere right. The tiny Resource space is so dusty and musty and crammed with bad antiques that it's easy to believe you're in an apartment that's been sealed for 16 years.
One of Miller's windier works, "The Price" (1968) hasn't aged well. Miller slowly builds to a tense standoff between two brothers. While brother Walter was building a career as a surgeon, Victor Franz sacrificed his scientific bent and became a cop to support their father, who was shattered after the Depression. Now the old man's dead, and Vic has just sold the family furniture to a Methuselah of an antiques dealer, so he can afford something nice for his wife Esther. In walks well-to-do Walt to stir up some doubts about whether Vic's sacrifice was necessary. It's all about appraisals -- how much is the old furniture really worth, and was Vic's life well-spent or wasted?
Miller has a stinging touch with a family squabble and gets in a few good shots at today's obsession with possessions, equating the modern world's shoddy craftsmanship with its soullessness. Fairly interesting stuff, but things get turgid toward the end, as each character fights for the last word.
Director Dorothy Neumann's hand is nearly invisible. That can be a compliment, but in this case the result is a static production, almost a straight reading of the play. And Source's cast never quite musters the energy needed to slice through the verbiage. Though Vic and Esther Franz are worn down by the world, they're still kicking, and actors David Sitomer and Marie McKenzie seem unduly fatigued. Morris J. Chalick is slick but superficial as Walter Franz. As the 89-year-old antiques dealer, L.C. (Pete) Holm gives a vivid, humorous performance but seems somehow held in check, a bystander rather than a protagonist. THE PRICE -- At the Source Theater Resource space through December 22.