Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
A View From the Bridge
The Lake Worth Playhouse presents Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge. A View From The Bridge was originally produced as a one-act verse drama on Broadway in 1955. It was based on a screenplay that Miller previously developed with Elia Kazan in the early 1950s, entitled The Hook, dealing with corruption on the Brooklyn docks. It was revised in 1956 to its current prose play in two acts, and was first performed at the Comedy Theatre, London on October 11, 1956 starring Anthony Quayle. In 1999, the play was adapted into an opera by William Bolcom, bringing the story back into verse form. In 2006, a film version release of A View From the Bridge was announced. It is to be directed by Barry Levinson and star Anthony LaPaglia, Scarlett Johansson, and Frances McDormand.
A View From The Bridge is set in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. In 1955 Red Hook was a community of Italian and Sicilian immigrants. The people of Red Hook all appreciate the benefits of living in the U.S. but still strongly hold to Italian traditions and identify it as home. Their Italian/Sicilian heritage serves as a touchstone to unite the community with its own laws and customs, and the Sicilian code of honor is a motif running through the show. It is from their vantage point on the Bay seaward from the Brooklyn Bridge that Miller's characters view their lives and the world around them.
Red Hook resident Eddie Carbone is an Italian-American longshoreman who lives with his wife Beatrice and his teenaged niece Catherine. Catherine is the orphaned child of Beatrice's sister, whom they have raised as their own. A hard working Eddie has willingly sacrificed to provide for the welfare of his niece. His feelings toward Catherine, however, develop from paternally over-protective into something more unhealthy as the story progresses. Beatrice senses what troubles may lie ahead due to the marital rift between she and Eddie, and his behavior toward Catherine. She speaks to Catherine about behaving more like a grown up around Eddie. Her concern is for both her niece and her marriage.
Beatrice convinces Eddie to house her two cousins, Marco and Rodolfo. They have entered the country illegally from Italy, hoping for a better life in America. Such harboring of illegal immigrants is not uncommon in the Red Hook neighborhood. There is an air of honor about putting oneself at risk by providing refuge to fellow Italians as they find their place in the U.S. Though able bodied, the two men can find no work back in Italy. Marco has come to the U.S. for work. He has a wife and family in Italy to whom he sends all his money, and plans to return to in a few years.
An unmarried Rodolpho has come with his brother more to find freedom than work. When Catherine quickly falls for the handsome Rodolpho, Eddie responds by pointing out all of his faults to anyone who will listen. Rodolpho likes to sing, cook, knows how to sew, and dresses well. Eddie focuses on those qualities that seem less masculine in order to impugn Rodolpho's sexual orientation. He does so with the air of a competitive suitor rather than a concerned father figure. Eddie first punches Rodolpho under the guise of a mock boxing lesson. He then kisses Rodolpho on the lips in an attempt to demean him as a man, and proves that Rodolpho is secretly homosexual. What it proves is Eddie's desperation, and his inappropriate feelings toward his niece.
When Catherine decides to marry Rodolfo, Eddie reports Marco and Rodolpho to the Immigration Bureau as illegal immigrants. When Marco and Rodolpho are arrested, Eddie loses face with not just his family, but the entire neighborhood, for he has broken a Sicilian based code of honor. Marco and Rodolpho are released pending sentencing. Rodolpho may remain in the U.S. as Catherine's husband, but Marco must go back to Italy. Marco is furious that he must return to Italy without money to save his family from the oppressive poverty that threatens their existence. He tracks down Eddie and engages him in a physical confrontation. Eddie violates codes of honor by pulling out a knife, and attacking Marco. Marco turns the blade back on Eddie, who loses his life at the hands of a younger, stronger, and more honorable man.
Playwright Arthur Miller wrote A View From The Bridge as a direct response to the divisions that the House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC) created in America. It is one of three exchanges in a very public dispute over dishonor and duty between old friends, Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan. Miller, who was suspected of being a Communist sympathizer, refused to name names to the HUAC and risked imprisonment for his ideals. Kazan named names for the HUAC, seeing it as his duty to inform on suspected Communists. Miller was outraged by this, and saw it as a dishonorable act by his former collaborator and friend. In A View from The Bridge, Eddie Carbone represents Kazan turning friends in to the HUAC and Miller is giving his opinion on what he considers a shameful betrayal. The play On the Waterfront by Elia Kazan is believed to be Kazan's response to Miller's commentary.
This ambitious undertaking by the Lake Worth Playhouse is surprisingly well done. Director Jodie Dixon-Mears has found actors who physically fit the roles well, and shaped this into an excellent production. The raked stage upon which most of the action occurs seems more work than it is worth to the actors, but is artistically pleasing. The Italian accents used by Nick Vesser as Marco, and Bryan M. Wohlust as Rodolpho are consistent and nearly flawless. The accents used by Joanne Deprizio as Beatrice and Dan DePaola are also authentic sounding without caricature. The dialogue flows so naturally that the characters become tangibly real. Dan DePaola is palpably pitiable in his conflict in a role that must be exhausting. Joanne Deprizio is more Beatrice than one could ask. She plays the character fully in her long suffering good intentions, and instincts to both protect and survive. Though the rest of the cast is good as well, it is worth the price of a ticket just to see these two actors do such a fine job with this work, and the Lake Worth Playhouse rise to the occasion so beautifully.
The late Arthur Miller is deservedly considered one of the greatest American playwrights. In addition to A View From The Bridge, his best known works are Death of a Salesman, The Crucible and All My Sons. For over 60 years he was a prominent figure in literature and cinema. He was the winner of a Pulitzer Prize, three Tony Awards, and a Lifetime Achievement in Theatre Award in 1999. His death in 2005 was a great loss to the theatrical and literary communities.
A View From The Bridge will be appearing at the Lake Worth Playhouse through March 18, 2007. The theatre is located at 713 Lake Ave. in Lake Worth, FL. The Lake Worth Playhouse is a Resident Community Playhouse celebrating it's 54th season. For more information about the theatre and its programs, you may contact them by phone at 561-586-6410 or on line at www.lakeworthplayhouse.org.