Theater Review: A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE (Theatre Palisades)

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by Shari Barrett on March 31, 2024

in Theater-Los Angeles


Theatre Palisades has a hit on their boards with a true-to-life production of Arthur Miller’s landmark drama from 1955, A View from the Bridge, sharply directed by Cate Caplin. What stands out in 2024 about this primal script is how much Miller anticipates today’s xenophobic anti-immigrant witch hunts — rancor that splits families as much as nations. 

It’s 1950s Brooklyn near the ocean-facing docks where hard-working longshoreman Eddie and his wife Beatrice live. The long-married couple have been lovingly caring for her 17-year-old niece Catherine since birth, but Eddie is now having a real problem dealing with her transformation into a young woman looking for love elsewhere. When Beatrice’s two Italian cousins Marco and Rodolpho arrive to stay with them to work on the docks, Eddie becomes consumed with raging jealousy when the innocent young girl falls for handsome younger cousin Rodolpho from the moment they meet.

But Eddie “knows” the uneducated, poor illegal immigrant is not a good match for Catherine and is ready to pull out all the stops to prevent her from marrying Rodolpho just so he can get his green card and stay in America. As the situation takes a tragic turn, caught in the middle is Eddie’s loving wife Beatrice who is pulled in several directions at once, wanting what is best for everyone but obliged to take her husband’s side. As the stage is set for a brutal reckoning, the production delves into themes of love, immigration, and the consequences of personal desires and choices.

Miller said he heard the basic account that developed into the plot of A View from the Bridgefrom a lawyer who worked with longshoremen and related it to him as a true story. Appropriately, the play is told through memories shared by Eddie’s lawyer friend Alfieri (Jason Culp), a worldly wise Greek Chorus who warns there is tragedy ahead, but there is nothing to stop the trajectory. Fully knowing Eddie will never listen to his good advice to allow Catherine to live her own life, Culp — especially his meetings with Eddie as tempers flare — has a professional demeanor that speaks to his character’s belief in the letter of the law.

Peter Gregory, a lifetime member of The Actors Studio, induces your anger and deserves your sympathy as he dynamically channels the much-flawed Eddie, from his tenderness towards Catherine to his physical gruffness — painfully experiencing loss of respect from his family and community. Caught in their push-pull struggle is Maria O’Connor as Eddie’s long-suffering wife Beatrice, who provokes empathy as she gets caught between a rock and a hard place.

Young lovers Catherine and Rodolpho, portrayed with all the wonder of first love and heartbreak by Isabella DiBernardino and Darren M.B., will pull you into the reasons why these two deserve to be together as well as Eddie’s good reasons they should not be. DiBernardino absolutely manifests the realization of falling in love at first sight while M.B. encompasses not only the young Italian’s speech and movement patterns to a tee (honest Brooklyn and Italian immigrant accents by Dialect Coach Glenda Morgan Brown), but also his struggle to go against the wishes of the man who has offered him a place to stay in America. We are pulled into watching helplessly as their joy turns into the darker side of human nature, namely the green-eyed monster filling Eddie’s heart.

As the married and quietercousin Marco, handsome Monty Renfrow lets us know from moment-to-moment everything he is feeling without saying a word. After all, he just wants to work in America to send money home to his wife and three children in Italy; he knows upsetting the cart will destroy their chances for survival. His emotional outburst as the situation with Eddie rises to the boiling point will leave you gasping at the raw emotion so brilliantly captured onstage, thanks to Caplin’s skill with both casting and vigorous, vital pacing. Portraying Eddie’s longshoremen friends and Immigration Officers are Andrew Chase, David T, Downs, Joshua Farrell, Christopher Landis, and Eric Shaffer.

Michael Mullen‘s 1950s costumes heighten the realism of the play’s time-frame; Sherman Wayne’s stylistic and detailed set offers a variety of playing areas; Sherman Wayne and Clayton Collins‘ lighting often adds an eerie aspect to scene changes, alerting us that trouble is on the way; and fight choreographer Jen Albert ensures authenticity to the men’s angry, physical power struggles.

Immerse yourself in the emotional truth of this classic Arthur Miller play.

photos courtesy of Theatre Palisades

A View from the Bridge
Theatre Palisades
produced by Martha Hunter and Sherman Wayne
Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Road in Pacific Palisades
Fri and Sat at 8; Sun at 2
ends on April 28, 2024
for tickets ($20-$22), call 310.454.1970 or visit Theatre Palisades

ree parking available on site and in the surrounding neighborhood.

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