Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

A View from the Bridge
Asolo Conservatory
Review by William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of Clever Little Lies


Aleksandr Krapivkin, Amber Lageman,
and Wes Tolman

Photo by Frank Atura
The second year students are presenting Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge as their second production this season. A View from the Bridge is one of Miller's finest plays, along with All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, and The Price. This play and the first three mentioned all center around modern day Greek tragic heroes, men who because of a weakness destroy themselves and everyone around them. In 2014 Ivo van Hove directed A View from the Bridge for the Young Vic, a production that was taped for Digital Theatre and broadcast in movie theaters around the world and later transferred to Broadway. This production stripped the play bare, laying all its raw emotionalism right in the audience's lap. I thought that production presented an interesting alternative version, but it lost its strong connection to the Brooklyn Red Hook neighborhood that is an essential part of Miller's storytelling. Director Andrei Malaev-Babel's view of the piece is very far removed from van Hove's.

Asolo Conservatory's production is staged on a simple but effective set, by Chris McVicker, also responsible for the lighting. Malaev-Babel shows the audience Eddie Carbone's interactions and emotional relationships with the men of the neighborhood. This helps the audience better understand the tragedy that ensues. Becki Leigh's costumes also helped establish time and place.

Wes Tolman, again playing beyond his years, captures the frustrations of a man struggling to just survive and desperately wanting better for the niece he has raised and his wife. Unfortunately, he can only outline the character, not fully inhabit him, without the life experiences that 10-15 more years would provide. The same is true of Amber Lageman as wife Beatrice, but because she is not the central focus of the entire play, so it is less noticeable. When we get to the younger generation of this family, things improve greatly. Amy Helms as Catherine shows us the little girl/grown up woman dichotomy of the character. Emotionally, she is ready to surge ahead to experience the world, but when life kicks her, she quickly retreats to daddy/uncle's little girl. Aleksandr Krapivkin is simply magnificent as Marco, the older of two cousins whom Eddie and Beatrice are taking in. One can feel his yearning to be back with his family, but with the knowledge that he has to be in America to ensure their survival. Those same paternal feelings also show up in his relationship with his younger brother Rudolpho, also extraordinarily well played by Dustin Babin. He captures the many facets of this character, the boyishness, the man of many accomplishments, the slight femininity, but most of all, the sense of future that all of this will develop into a man. Arthur Miller has fashioned Alfieri into his modern version of a Greek chorus, all wise, all knowing. The wisdom comes from age, and Andrew Bosworth cannot convey that or the gravitas. First year students Dylan Crow, Matthew Kresch, Andrew Hardaway, and Lawrence James fill minor roles.

Other technical elements such as movement coaching by Eliza Ladd, fight direction by Jonathan Epstein, and sound design by Rew Tippin, are all assets to this production. Voice and dialect coach Patricia DeLorey does her usual excellent work; the Italian accents are believable even if the Brooklyn ones are only partially so.

With Asolo Rep now in the last season of a five-year examination of The American Character, it is easy to quibble about some of the production choices, several second rate comedies and a total lack of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams, two of our greatest mid-century playwrights. At least we are able to find one of Miller's greatest scripts on stage at Asolo Conservatory.

Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training presents A View from the Bridge through January 15, 2017, at the Cook Theater in the FSU Center. 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Box Office (941) 351-8000. For more information visit www.asolorep.org.

Cast:
Eddie: Wes Tolman
Beatrice: Amber Lageman
Catherine: Amy Helms
Alfieri: Andrew Bosworth
Marco: Aleksandr Krapivkin
Rudolpho: Dustin babin
Louis/2nd Immigration Officer: Dylan Crow*
Mike/Submarine: Matthew Kresch*
Tony/Submarine: Andrew Hardaway*
1st Immigration Officer: Lawrence James*
*=First Year Student

Directed by Andrei Malaev Babel
Scenic and Lighting Designer: Chris McVicker
Costume Designer: Becki Leigh
Sound Designer: Rew Tippin
Movement Coach: Eliza Ladd
Production Stage Manager: Devon Muko
Voice and Dialect Coach: Patricia DeLorey
Fight Director: Jonathan Epstein
Assistant Fight Director: Wyatt McNeil


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