Outstanding intense performances marked Haddonfield Plays and Players production of A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE clearly a success.
In A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, Gary Werner plays the protagonist “Eddie Carbone,” a Brooklyn Italian American longshoreman obsessed with his 17-year-old niece Catherine, played by Devonn Duffin.
At first Eddie seems to be a loving uncle to Catherine and to Catherine he is very kind and special man. By the end of the Act, we are certain the relationship is not as it should be. Eddie’s interest in Catherine has gradually grown into incestuous obsession, an unwholesome interest he refuses to acknowledge even to himself. When Catherine falls in love with a newly arrived immigrant, Rodolpho, Eddie’s jealousy erupts in a rage that consumes him, his family, and his world.
When the Carbones take in Beatrice’s (Jessica Lynn Kramer) immigrant cousins, Marco (David Nikolas) and Rodolpho (Eli Wood), Rodolpho and Catherine fall in love — a development that the increasingly possessive Eddie cannot tolerate.
Meanwhile the narrator of the piece, local attorney Alfieri (Rob Albach), sadly recounts the disaster he was helpless to prevent. Albach’s portrayal of Alfieri is interesting and the character he creates is soft-spoken in comparison to the gruffer Carbone. Not how I originally imagined him, but his portrayal worked for me.
It’s no wonder that the A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE has been adapted into opera form at least twice. Although modest in circumstance, its characters have epic emotions that are operatic in scale, while Eddie’s complicity in his own demise has all the elements of Greek tragedy. It is ironic that his characters are so eloquently inarticulate.
Miller was known for some experimental theatre, and his first version of A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE that played on Broadway was a failure. He said he was trying to duplicate the true Greek tragedy, always one acts and the actors detached of emotion. The revision into a two act play with emotion was a success in the London West End. The other play I would put near the top was even less successful and Miller’s only comedy, but we’ll stick to the subject at hand. A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE has a tragic protagonist in Eddie, and the chorus in Alfieri.
In some ways, Arthur Miller’s A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE is more conventional than other Miller works. DEATH OF A SALESMAN, one his most famous plays and ALL OF MY SONS had to do with the corruptible or thin fabric of the American dream in hard times. The emotion that Miller conjured up for VIEW came from divorcing his current wife and his marriage to Marilyn Monroe, and in part from Miller’s testifying (or non-testifying) at the McCarthy hearings. Miller also used THE CRUCIBLE and its setting of the Salem Witch Trials to decry those Senate hearings.
Those other plays were more apparent. First produced in the mid-1950s, VIEW is not as thematically obvious. Miller’s drama, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE is still quite powerful.
A few nitpicks though. Heavier accents might have made for more consistency, but the acting was strong enough to overwhelm that desire. The chair lift scene is wrong. The chair Miller is referring to is a regular wooden chair, not an easy chair. Try grabbing the front leg of a chair and lifting it straight up by that leg; it takes a lot of strength. Anyone who has seen this stunt before will know it was axed. Miller did not intend this to be a test of physical strength. Eddie is strong physically, but he is flawed by his obsession and can’t think straight and this “old parlor trick” proves it. By the last scene, I realized I would like to have seen Alfieri remain positioned where he was at the desk—even if standing–still a narrator, separated from the action (other than his scenes with Eddie alone). This was especially true at the end when he seemed out of place; I think two spots would have made the moment more powerful. I thoroughly enjoyed this production. And, these are truly nitpicks. I doubt anyone else would truly give a darn.
Haddonfield Plays and Players did an excellent job in producing Arthur Miller’s A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE. The audience seemed to know from the moment the lights came up in the theatre and discovered a great set and experienced a powerful performance under the superb direction of Megan Knowlton Balne.
A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE
by Arthur Miller
Directed by Megan Knowlton Balne
Sept 19 – Oct 5, 2013
Haddonfield Plays and Players
957 East Atlantic Avenue at Crows Woods
Haddonfield, NJ 08033