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The Frightening Intensity of APT's 'A View from the Bridge'

Aug. 29, 2017
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Photo credit: Liz Lauren

Dark currents course through many families, but it’s how families respond to them that determines whether they become fanciful or fatal. Such currents become the driving force for the 11 characters in A View from the Bridge, playwright Arthur Miller’s “Greek tragedy” and American Players Theatre’s last production of the 2017 summer season.

Eddie Carbone (Jim DeVita), an Italian American longshoreman who lives with his wife, Beatrice (Colleen Madden), and niece, Catherine (Melissa Pereyra), in Brooklyn’s rough-and-tumble Red Hook neighborhood, works hard but struggles emotionally and  financially to get by. Eddie and Beatrice haven’t been intimate for months, and the aging laborer, who suffers aches and pains from his job, seems to be taking increased interest in his niece as she approaches her 18th birthday.

Family dynamics change with the arrival of Beatrice’s cousins, Marco (Casey Hoekstra) and Rodolpho (Will Mobley). The brothers, who move in with the family, are illegal immigrants looking for work. It turns out that Rodolpho, with no immediate family back in Italy to return to, also is looking to start a new life—one that involves singing, cooking and, God forbid, dressmaking. That, coupled with the growing attraction between the young man and Catherine, pushes Eddie past the boiling point to the play’s tragic conclusion.

Miller’s play structure is that of stylized Greek tragedy with Eddie’s attorney Alfieri (Brian Mani) as observer and Greek chorus. Italian-born but now an American citizen, Alfieri is the “bridge” between the two cultures, and his view of Eddie’s unfolding situation troubles and frightens him—especially when it comes to settling matters of honor.

Eddie’s actions provide the pulse of the show, and none of the characters are able to escape its tragic and destructive orbit. DeVita plays Eddie as a bundle of sinew and raw nerves, presumably dipping deeply into his own Long Island roots for the emotion and, especially, the accent that turns Eddie into a frightening performance well worthy of Martin Scorsese’s darkest film.

Kudos to voice and text coach Sara Becker for coaxing near authentic Jersey-girl accents from Madden and Pereyra, while making Hoekstra and Mobley sound plausibly, but not comically, Italian. Takeshi Kata’s dramatic scenic design uses a small, cheap dining room set with mismatched chairs surrounded by stacks of wooden pallets on wheels to represent the Carbone apartment under the dark, threatening nature Eddie’s of crude brutality.

That Marco and Rodolpho are illegal immigrants adds some necessary currency to the proceedings, reminding us that, at one time, our families were all immigrants from somewhere.

Through Oct. 22 at 5950 Golf Course Road, Spring Green. For tickets, call 608-588-2361 or visit americanplayers.org.

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