Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A View from the Bridge"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Carl A. Rossi


by Arthur Miller
directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques

Louis … Alain Groene
Mike … Vladimir Noel
Mr. Alfieri … Ron Brinn
Eddie … Jeff Gill
Catherine … Anya Warburg
Bea … Lisa Caron Driscoll
Tony … Mark DiGiovanni
Marco … Amar Srivastava
Rodolpho … Mauro Canepa
Immigration Officer … Paul S. Benford-Bruce
Immigration Officer … Edward Roche
Submarine … Fernando Valero
Submarine … Fethi Bendida
Mrs. Lipari … Jessica Ryan
Mr. Lipari … Peter Hubbard

DEATH OF A SALESMAN may be Arthur Miller’s most acclaimed play but his tragedy A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE is a better one, its concentrated force not letting up until five lives have been smashed: Eddie Carbone, a Brooklyn longshoreman, takes in Marco and Rodolpho, two of his wife Bea’s nephews despite their being illegal aliens. Tensions build when the blond, sensitive Rodolpho falls in love with Catherine, Eddie’s grown niece; Eddie has raised Catherine as his own and is secretly in love with her, himself. Despite Eddie’s threats and accusations, Catherine and Rodolpho vow to marry; Eddie retaliates by blowing the whistle on the aliens, and Marco kills Eddie in the street. Mr. Alfieri, a local lawyer, acts as a one-man Chorus. I’ve neither read nor seen the original one-act version which was written in verse but the two-act revision is blessedly free of artifice; as for the once-shocking moment when Eddie kisses Rodolpho on the mouth, claiming the youth is homosexual, those who know only the 1962 film adaptation where the kiss is preceded by “I’ll show you what you’re gonna marry! What you are! What you are!” may blink when the action is executed without dialogue: where on earth did that kiss come from?

No doubt TheatreZone’s grand old home, the Chelsea Theatre Works, and the small-town milieu right outside its door have helped set the tone for its honest, low-key production and though Danielle Fauteux Jacques’ direction is slack and her shouting ensembles are congested, she has mostly cast along believable lines: for example, Anya Warburg’s Catherine is no lush beauty but, instead, the delicate yet sturdy prize raised in Eddie’s shadow and Ron Brinn’s cut-and-dried presence simulates lawyers’ mannerisms, well enough. Mauro Canepa’s Rodolpho is too gawky to pose a romantic threat and Amar Srivastava’s Marco is left undeveloped for so long that the actor’s usual fire almost fails to ignite for the finale. Jeff Gill has been playing supporting roles, lately, but now takes center stage as Eddie Carbone; I went in wondering if Mr. Gill, so effective in short spurts, could go the distance and to such operatic lengths --- and, yes, he can. Instead of being larger-than-life from the get-go, this Eddie is a Little Man singled out by the gods to be quickened and then consumed by a forbidden passion; his inevitable plummet remains firmly in the neighborhood. If an actor can be considered an auteur in terms of defining and propelling a production forward, then Mr. Gill is such a one as he unleashes wave upon wave of blazing energy, here, seemingly spontaneous yet carefully self-orchestrated --- and, most importantly, he never loses the audience’s sympathy. Mr. Gill’s fellow actors cannot help being galvanized whenever he approaches, especially Lisa Caron Driscoll as the long-suffering Bea, worn down to plainness but who can still give as well as get when locked in combat. Twice I have seen Ms. Driscoll play embittered women on the sidelines; it is good to see her now taking center stage, as well, and holding her own with Mr. Gill.

Emily Getchell’s two-level setting --- the Carbone home and Mr. Alfieri’s office --- at first glance makes clever use of the Chelsea space with the former’s cutaway walls revealing the latter upstage on a platform; after awhile, Ms. Getchell’s design distances the Eddie-Alfieri scenes, the phone call to the Immigration Board and the closing classical tableau. At least Ms. Getchell provides a view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the office windows --- Mr. Miller never bothered to explain the play’s title.

"A View from the Bridge" (10 November - 10 December)
Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet Street, CHELSEA, MA
1 (617) 887-2336

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide