In this Tony Award-winning revival of Arthur Miller’s 1955 classic, “A View from the Bridge” is a stripped down version that attempts to give the black box small theater feel even though it’s presented in the expansive Ahmanson. Opening on 7 Sept. 2016, the production runs until 16 October 2016.
On both sides of the stage, the wings are blocked by special audience seating. The actors are mostly confined to a box. Three sides are low and serve as benches for the actors. The back rises to beyond the audiences sight lines and supports the top that is suspended and less like a ceiling and more like hubris hovering. In the middle of this back panel is a rectangular entryway through which most of the characters come and go.
The literal bridge of the title is the Brooklyn Bridge near where this Italian American neighborhood of Red Hook is situated. We’re back in the 1950s. Italy is recovering from World War II. The play begins with Louis (Howard W. Overshown) and Eddie (Frederick Weller) shirtless, bathed in misty orange light, taking a sponge bath to clean off the sweat of a long day’s work. Alfieri (Thomas Jay Ryan), the narrator, is a lawyer who witnesses the events although he “was acquainted with the family in a casual way.”
The broader topic is immigration. Eddie and his wife, Beatrice (Andrus Esola) are Italian American. Working as a longshoreman, Eddie supports his wife and her orphaned niece Catherine (Catherine Combs). When he comes home, the 17-year-old niece jumps into his arms and wraps her naked legs around his waist like a horny newlywed. When he sits down, she follows him, sitting astride his lap. Director Ivo Van Hove clearly shows the inappropriate nature of Eddie’s relationship with Catherine.
Catherine is in a secretarial school and has been chosen to take a job, but Eddie objects, saying that he wants her to start at a better company, in a better neighborhood but eventually agrees to let her work.
Catherine’s increasing independence is only the beginning of their problems. Beatrice and Eddie are welcoming Beatrice’s cousins from Italy, Marco (Alex Esola) and Rodolpho (Dave Register). The dark brooding Marco is married with three starving children back in Italy. The taller blond Rodolpho and Catherine become involved and a jealous Eddie turns in his cousins by marriage just before Catherine and Rodolpho can get married. Eddie rationalizes his betrayal as protecting Catherine from marrying a gay man because Rodolpho sings.
Weller is a thin, wiry guy with short sandy brown hair. Weller instills a restless, an uneasiness to his Eddie. Esola has broad shoulders and a solid build. His Marco is serious, plodding bull of a man who lives in quiet desperation. Register is the tallest of the three men, with blonde hair yet his Rodolpho has defused the potential threat of his stature with the friendly demeanor of a golden retriever. Neither Esola nor Register attempt an Italian accent and the production makes no attempt to transport us to an Italian ghetto. There’s a drabness in their clothes, but even the era is only suggested. Yet what is suggestive is Combs short dress and how she sits or lounges around, as if an audience wasn’t there to peak up her skirt.
Attitudes gay men has changed since the 1950s so perhaps the impact of Eddie’s accusal is blunted by contemporary views of homosexuality, however, the topic of family ties, illegal immigration and survival are part of our political landscape today, especially in the Southwest and Southern California. By taking away a sense of place and ethnicity, Van Hove makes the unembellished universals of the play stronger. “A View from the Bridge” is performed without intermission.
Performance Days and Times:
• Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m.
• Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.
• Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m.
• No Monday performances.
• Exceptions: No 8 p.m. performance on Thursday, September 22. Added 2 p.m. performance on Thursday, October 13. No 6:30 p.m. performance on Sunday, October 16. Ticket
Prices: $25 – $125 (Ticket prices are subject to change.)
Tickets are available:
• Online at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org
• By calling Center Theatre Group Audience Services at 213.972.4400
• In person at the Center Theatre Group box office at the Music Center
Group Sales: 213.972.7231
Deaf community information and charge: visit CenterTheatreGroup.org/ACCESS.
Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012.