|Scarlett Johanson and Liev Schreiber in Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge |
Photo: Joan Marcus
Arthur Miller’s 1955 drama, A View from the Bridge which recently opened on Broadway at the Cort Theatre focuses on the rough-hewn family of a longshoreman, Eddie Carbone. He lives in Red Hook, Brooklyn in a small unimpressive apartment with his wife Beatrice and her niece Catherine. The tale was originally told to Arthur Miller by a longshoreman. He writes in the introduction to the script “I had never thought to make a play of it because it was too complete, there was nothing I could add.” Oh how wrong he was. It is that completeness, told well by talented actors that makes this an engrossing evening.
Each evening Catherine greets her Uncle’s return from the docks with the inappropriate exuberance of a young bride. Her uncle seems to love the positive attention he obviously no longer gets from his wife. The talented Liev Schreiber (Talk Radio, Glengarry Glen Ross) plays Eddie with genuineness and subtlety. His Eddie organically evolves from a man seemingly satisfied with life into a tempest of self-destruction.
Scarlett Johansson (“Lost in Translation”) plays Catherine with equal subtlety and nuance. Johansson, a native New Yorker with a long and esteemed Hollywood pedigree makes a striking Broadway debut. Beatrice, his wife, is played by Jessica Hecht who was last seen in an eerily similar role, Blanche in Brighton Beach Memoirs. She is the conciliator, the referee.
Catherine starts the boat rocking by announcing she wants to leave stenography school to take a job as a stenographer. Eddie reluctantly agrees only after Beatrice’s intercession. The rocking boat ultimately lands when word is received that Beatrice’s cousins, expected to arrive in a week or so to stay with them have arrived a week earlier.
A Solid Knock Out
This is an amazing cast led by Mr. Schreiber. He is so good, in fact perhaps a little too good. Morgan Spector was not the original actor in the role of Rudolpho. At one point in the second act there is a bit of sparring and his predecessor, Santino Fontana sustained a concussion and was permanently knocked out of the play.
The brothers arrive at the apartment under a veil of secrecy. Marco, played by Corey Stoll, is here to send money back to his wife and kids in Italy. Rodolpho, Morgan Spector, is the dreamer. He also happens to be a dancer, singer and tailor. These “unmanly” pastimes don’t sit well with Eddie. When Rodolpho and Catherine express a romantic interest in one-another and start to get serious, Eddie explodes. He seeks the council of his family lawyer Alfieri who tells him there is nothing he can do about Rodolpho just because in Eddie’s words “the guy ain’t right.”
Eddie’s homophobia seems intensely personal, almost like he doth protest too much. During the heat of an argument in the second act Eddie gives us another reason to question this. What may have seemed in 1955 like an attempt to emasculate Rodolpho, comes off today as a potential closet case.
|Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Hecht and Liev Schreiber in Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge |
Photo: Joan Marcus
Director Gregory Mosher’s touch on this play is barely felt and the heartbreaking lives of this family are left to unfold with Miller’s naturalistic dialogue. John Lee Beatty’s set is as simple as the play itself. As you enter the theatre the brick street façade of mid-century Brooklyn is plain and undistinguishable. Peter Kaczorowski’s lights coming up on the scene at the top of the show make the set pop to life. Jane Greenwood’s costumes are simple and reflective of the period and the socio-economic status of the Carbone’s.
It’s hard to imagine that with two revivals since the 1980s alone, A View from the Bridge could find an audience; this one deserves it. This is thanks in large part to a first-rate cast and a story that’s so “complete.”
I’m predicting that Mr. Schreiber will have an aisle seat in Radio City Music Hall come this June 13th.
Read full production credits at the Internet Broadway Database.