An Arthur Miller morality tale gets a fine revival

Send a link to a friend

[January 25, 2010]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge" is a blue-collar Greek tragedy, a potent mix of melodrama and a classic fall from grace usually reserved for the brightest and best of heroes.

AHardwarelthough Eddie Carbone, Miller's doomed Brooklyn longshoreman, is inarticulate and confused about his feelings, there is an odd nobility to the man, particularly in Liev Schreiber's mesmerizing performance in a powerful revival of the play that opened Sunday at Broadway's Cort Theatre. Schreiber captures Eddie's moral rigidity with astonishing fidelity. It's a rigidity that turns to rage as his world begins to unravel.

But then the entire cast, under Gregory Mosher's astute direction, contributes to the production's effectiveness. Beside Schreiber, the revival stars Scarlett Johansson as Catherine, Eddie's attractive, 17-year-old niece and the object of his deeply repressed lust. Johansson, making her Broadway debut, is a revelation, giving a shaded, nuanced performance. At first, she's sweetly fond of her uncle, only later realizing his unspoken attentions. And check out her impeccable Brooklyn accent.

"Bridge" is not only the story of one man. It is a tale of a community, in this case the Italian-American enclave in Red Hook, a neighborhood that has its own sets of rules and social mores. And Mosher makes sure we get a feel for its insularity, starting with designer John Lee Beatty's grimy row of apartment buildings, including one that contains Eddie's claustrophobic, drab apartment.

"Justice is very important here," says the lawyer Alfieri, right at the top of the tale. The man serves as the narrator and moral center of "Bridge," and Michael Cristofer plays him with a fierce sense of right and wrong. Immediately we know retribution is inevitable.

[to top of second column]

If the belligerent Eddie is overprotective of his niece, he neglects his wife, Beatrice, a good woman driven to sad anger by her preoccupied husband. A touching Jessica Hecht finds the loneliness in this unhappy helpmate as well as the bitterness that comes from being denied attention.

Yet it is Beatrice who has the insight into her husband's unspoken desires. "You gonna keep her in the house all her life?" the woman asks about her niece as Eddie fumbles for an answer.

Miller's plot revolves around the arrival of the wife's cousins, illegal immigrants, who hide from the authorities while secretly working on the docks. And it's Catherine's attraction to one of them (an ingratiating Morgan Spector) that sets up the play's violent ending.

"A View From the Bridge," originally a one-act play, was first seen on Broadway in 1955, but Miller later revised the script, turning it into two acts. Still, there is an economy of style to the piece in its longer form. The language is tough, almost muscular in its gritty depiction of a world where honor is all and men's lives are shaped by it.

As Alfieri says of the play's protagonist: "Eddie Carbone never expected to have a destiny." At the Cort, Schreiber, Johansson and company have managed to make it a memorable one.

[Associated Press; By MICHAEL KUCHWARA]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor