A View from the Bridge
Reviewed by Terry Morgan
Through October 16
The Young Vic production of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge was roundly praised in both London and New York. The current version at the Ahmanson, however, has at least a couple of major problems. First, the Ahmanson is way too cavernous a theatre for this intimate show, to the point where one can’t see or hear crucial moments. Second, the lead role has been miscast, which negatively affects the power of the play.
In 1950s New York, dockworker Eddie (Frederick Weller) lives with his wife Beatrice (Andrus Nichols) and his niece Catherine (Catherine Combs). As a favor to Beatrice, he takes in two illegal immigrants from Italy, Rodolpho (Dave Register) and Marco (Alex Esola), and helps them find work. Catherine falls for the charming Rodolpho, which greatly displeases the possessive Eddie. Eddie decides to take action to scuttle a potential marriage, and tragedy follows.
Weller is a good actor, but he just isn’t Eddie Carbone. He lacks the air of threatening menace needed to make the character’s domination of the household convincing — nor can he quite make Eddie’s inarticulateness believable. Combs is charming as Catherine, at her best toward the end of the show when she turns against Eddie, furious at his betrayal. Nichols is fine as Beatrice, one of the few characters to see the tragedy coming, and as the narrator, the lawyer Alfieri, Thomas Jay Ryan brings welcome moral indignation to the narrative. Register and Esola are both good as the Italian brothers, but their complete lack of Italian accents seems like a directorial misstep.
Director Ivo Van Hove’s theatrical concept for the show involves surrounding an empty stage with the audience on three sides, as if we are the community passing judgment — a conceit likely to work better in a smaller venue. As it is, Jan Versweyveld’s lighting is so dim that a major event at the play’s conclusion is barely visible. Tom Gibbons’ sound design is also underpowered to the extent that one can often barely hear the dialogue or sound effects. In a more appropriate space and with a different cast, this show might be compelling, but unfortunately this production does the play no favors.
Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles; Tues.-Fri. 8 p.m., Thurs.-Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 2 p.m. & 8:00 p.m., Sun. 1 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.; through Oct. 16. www.CenterTheatreGroup.org. Running time: 2 hours.