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A View from the Bridge
Mother Road Theatre Company

View From the Bridge
William R. Stafford
A View from the Bridge is an Arthur Miller play that takes place in an Italian-American neighborhood at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge in the early 1950s. This classic tragedy is presented in the black and white realism of Miller's great plays such as Death of a Salesman and The Crucible. Like those plays, the lead character is given little choice but to proceed through his nightmare.

The story follows Eddie Carbone (William R. Stafford), a longshoreman who lives with his wife Beatrice (Kristin Hansen) and his orphaned niece Catherine (Julia Harris). Eddie and Beatrice have raised Catherine as their own. As the play opens, 17-year-old Catherine is beginning to spread her wings. Eddie—who cares for her a bit too much—is threatened by Catherine's tentative moves toward independence.

The real trouble begins when the family takes in a couple of Eddie's cousins who are "submarines," illegal immigrants fresh from Italy. Eddie gets Rudolpho (Julian Singer-Corbin) and Marco (Justin Tade) jobs on the dock, and the two young men move in with the Carbone family. From the start, Eddie takes a dislike toward Rudolpho, making fun of his joking, colorful manner and his penchant for setting off into song. Eddie even suggests Rudolpho may be gay. When attraction sparks between Rudolpho and Catherine, Eddie's distaste turns to seething hatred.

Tensions escalate when Catherine and Rudolpho become engaged. Eddie is convinced Rudolpho is just using Catherine to gain U.S. citizenship. Eddie repeatedly tries to dissuade Catherine from marrying Rudolpho while also intimidating Rudolpho both verbally and physically. The effort puts pressure on Eddie's marriage. Beatrice comes to realize Eddie's attachment is Catherine is wildly inappropriate.

Like any good tragedy, these growing tensions find no relief. As Catherine and Beatrice beg Eddie to accept the romance and engagement, Eddie's hatred toward Rudolpho increases and his efforts to break up the young couple become increasingly threatening, bordering on violence.

While A View from the Bridge hasn't reached the stature of Salesman or The Crucible, the play has experienced some very successful runs on Broadway and in London. It has been revived a number of times since its Broadway premiere in 1955. Most recently, it was staged on Broadway in 2009 for a limited run with Scarlett Johansson performing her Broadway debut as Catherine. She nabbed a Tony for her effort.

The Mother Road production brings to life all the power of the play. The critical role is Eddie. He displays all the strengths and weaknesses of the men of the World War II generation. We see his tender, protective side, but under pressure, we also see the negative flipside: the smoldering anger, the fragile pride, the domestic belligerency. As Eddie, Stafford is pure dynamite. He captures Eddie's rage as well as Eddie's dark vulnerability. Eddie's emotions are the center of the play, and Stafford delivers them in a flawless performance.

Another crucial role is Beatrice. Her loyalty and simple love for her husband are tested. She watches in horror as Eddie displays his intense jealously of Rudolpho. Beatrice knows it stems from his dark desire for Catherine. Hansen matches Stafford's emotional power as Beatrice repeatedly stands up to him. Without a strong performance from Beatrice, the play would be lopsided. Hansen delivers.

Singer-Corbin is delightfully charming as Rudolpho. He captures the character's earnest affability. Tade is also excellent as the quiet-but-strong Marco. The ensemble worked wonderfully together. Kudos to co-directors Vic Browder and Julie Thudium for keeping the ticking-bomb tension high and forceful throughout the play—and for balancing the performances.

Since these characters come with strong accents—Brooklyn and Italian—the company used a dialog coach (Steve Corona). Nice job. Stage manager of the product is Amy Bourque. The set and lighting (thanks to Vic Browder and Tom Studer) are simple but effective. Likewise with costume design (Paula Steinberg) and sound (Brent Stevens).

I highly recommend this production. It's a stunner.

The Mother Road Theatre Company's A View from the Bridge, directed by Vic Browder and Julia Thudium, was written by Arthur Miller. The production runs at The Filling Station, 1024 4th Street SW, through October 2, http://www.motherroad.org/. Performances run Thursday and Friday at 8:00, Saturday at 6:00, and Sunday at 2 pm. General admission is $10, plus service fee. For reservations, call 505-243-0596

--Rob Spiegel



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