Harping on at the Abbey Theatre, St Albans
A harp with a fine vintage is set to grab the limelight when the Company of Ten puts on its next production, Arthur Miller’s The Price.
The musical instrument is owned by St Albans resident and professional harpist Geraldine McMahon and is a star of the British stage, including working with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
The Price, which is being performed in the Abbey Theatre Studio in St Albans, from next week is set in Manhattan in 1968,
It explores the toxic relationship between two estranged brothers who meet to go through the belongings of their dead parents. But the price they might get for an attic full of furniture and other paraphernalia does not compare to the heavy price they’ve already paid for life-changing choices in their past.
A tense drama about the bitterness and resentment that can grow up between siblings, the play also has plenty of humour, primarily provided by the octogenarian antiques dealer who comes to value the family heirlooms – including their mother’s harp.
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Geraldine has dubbed her instrument ‘The Price harp’ because it has appeared in so many productions of the play.
It is well suited to The Price because, like the harp in the story, its gilt is chipped and it has a cracked soundboard. Geraldine said: “It has appeared in so many theatres up and down the country it should have its own Equity Card.”
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The harp, which dates back to the 19th Century, is a copy of an Erard harp, the world’s first double-action pedal harp designed by French harp maker Sebastian Erard. However, because of the damage to its soundboard, it is no longer playable.
Performances take place at 8pm from next Thursday, January 23, to Saturday, January 25, and on 2.30pm on Sunday, January 26. It is also on again at 8pm from Wednesday, January 29, to Saturday, February 1.
To book tickets go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk or call the box office on 01727 857861.