The last show of University of Rhode Island Theatre season is Arthur Miller's raw American tragedy, "A View from the Bridge". Written in 1956 the show takes place in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn in 1952-53 in the waterfront neighborhood which is home to Italian immigrant workers who are cast adrift by poverty, on the edges of the American dream-all bound by Italian codes of justice, family values and the strict laws of US immigration. This drama crackles with tension and betrayals as longshoreman Eddie Carbone's obsession with his pretty orphaned niece, Catherine spirals out of control. The arrival of two of his wife Beatrice's illegal immigrant cousins from war torn Italy, to work and support their European families, give rise to a situation in which Eddie has to act in ways that shatter both his family and his community. With the power of a Greek tragedy, Miller creates Eddie as a respected, hard-working family man whose deeply buried feelings create horror in his own heart as well as in others. Director Bryna Wortman picks the best performers for her cast and their topnotch acting skills will leave you breathless.
Bryna gives her cast insightful direction and blocking in this tense and powerful drama. The gorgeous unit set by Cheryl deWardener helps set the show in its Brooklyn setting with a two story brick apartment, a lawyers office and the girder of the Brooklyn Bridge while David Howard's authentic 1950's costumes also are splendid. Andrew Burnap plays the lawyer, Alfieri and also narrates the show. The role is a one man Greek chorus who warns, appeals and educates Eddie and us of the dangers of such unbridled passion. He keeps the pacing of the show flowing smoothly especially impressive where he warns Eddie of the folly of his ways as well as when he explains how Marco should behave in the United States. Leading the cast as Eddie is Jim Sullivan. He is terrific as the off center uncle who lusts after his niece. His physicality and brutality are just what is needed to pull off this character. His scenes with his wife and niece crackle with electricity in the first act and his savage kissing of Catherine and Rodolfo in the second is stunning, too. His long suffering wife, Beatrice is played by Stephanie Rodger who gives the role the depth of emotions needed. Especially impressive is when she pleads with Eddie to reconcile with Catherine and Rodolfo in the second act. Betsy Rinaldi plays the spitfire young niece, Catherine who falls in love with a person her uncle despises. Her interactions with the other characters is excellent as are the tender scenes with her true love, Rodolfo. Betsy is a strong actress who delivers the goods in every role I have seen her in these past four years.
The handsome blond haired Italian, Rodolfo is played by Andrew Chaffee who conveys the immigrant who yearns to become an American but isn't afraid to cook, sew, sing and dance. His youthful exuberance really shines in this role. The other brother, Marco who is as strong as a bull is wonderfully played by Miles Boucher. He also adds great depth as this character especially in the confrontation scene at the end of Act 1 and the shocking closing scene which leaves the audience gasping for breath. So for an evening of a taut drama mixed with some light moments, be sure to catch "A View from the Bridge" at URI theatre to witness splendid acting.