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Thursday, February 11, 2010

A View From the Bridge

The Broadway revival of A View from the Bridge is playing for a few more weeks, and if you have the opportunity to see it, you owe it to yourself to see this powerful production of the classic Arthur Miller play.

Liev Schreiber plays the lead role of Eddie Carbone, a dockhand in Brooklyn who works hard and comes home to his loving wife Beatrice and his 17 year-old niece, Catherine, whom he and his wife have raised since the death of her mother.

As the play begins, Eddie is a happy guy; he stands tall and proud, he smiles frequently. He brings news home that two cousins of his wife have arrived from Italy. They are in the country illegally, and will be staying with the Carbones and working on the docks with Eddie. Many families had relatives from back home staying with them; it was something everyone in the neighborhood knew about. People went to great lengths to protect their families from the immigration officials.

Eddie becomes unnerved by Catherine's burgeoning romance with one of the cousins. Catherine loves her uncle, but she is growing into a young woman, and Beatrice is becoming concerned with Eddie's reluctance to let Catherine grow up.

Liev Schreiber is a fantastic actor, and while you are watching the play, you believe he is Eddie, not an actor portraying Eddie. As he becomes more discontent, his posture physically changes. He no longer stands proud, he slumps his shoulders and walks with his head hung low. A shadow falls across his face, and you can see anger and jealousy eating away at his very core. He makes you feel Eddie's growing despair.

Jessica Hecht is stunning as Beatrice. As the action unfolds, her face registers her anguish as she realizes that her husband cares too much for their niece. She tries her best to get Catherine out into the world to save her marriage and her husband from something sinister. I have seen Hecht mostly in comedic roles (Friends, Seinfeld guest spots), and I can't wait to see her in more dramas.

Scarlett Johansson plays Catherine in her first Broadway production. Although she is older than the 17-year-old Catherine, she imbues the character with the energy and innocence of a teenager. She is all bounce and puppy-like in her desire to please her Uncle Eddie, and she shows delight as her romantic feelings grow for Rodolpho. The role requires an actress to show a range of emotions, and Johannson does that well.

Morgan Spector plays the role of Rodolpho and his charismatic performance is winning. I hope to see him in another big role on Broadway soon.

A View From the Bridge is a strong, emotional play, one of Miller's best, and although the audience knows what will happen, the production does well building the sense of foreboding and dread. Come Tony nomination time, I would be surprised if Schreiber and Hecht are not nominated.

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