In a season chock full of revivals – some star studded and some not – some of which have already closed having garnered rave reviews, we now have a splendid, straightforward, solid and emotionally satisfying production of Arthur Miller’s classic A View From the Bridge playing at the Cort Theatre.
Harkening back to 1950’s Red Hook Brooklyn, where when you expect guests in this Italian neighborhood under the Brooklyn Bridge you might wash the walls. Such beautiful details are rampant in this superbly directed drama by Gregory Mosher, starring an ensemble cast that delivers the goods led by Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Hecht (late of Brighton Beach Memoirs – one of this seasons unfortunate victims of an untimely closing notice).
Another actor from that doomed production, Santino Fontana, was to appear as Rodolpho but had to withdraw due to an accident – making it possible for Morgan Spector to take over for him. As much as I was looking forward to seeing Mr. Fontana – who gave a wonderful performance in Brighton Beach Memoirs, Mr. Spector is excellent in the role of the Italian cousin who enters the States illegally with his brother Marco (Corey Stoll) seeking a better life. They are offered a place to stay in the home of Beatrice (Jessica Hecht) and Eddie Carbone (Live Schreiber) where their orphaned seventeen year old niece Catherine (Scarlett Johansson) also resides. When Rodolpho and Catherine begin to fall in love, an overprotective Eddie targets him for destruction.
On a realistic and towering set by master designer John Lee Beatty this tragic tale of unfulfilled dreams and lust unfolds seamlessly as it revolves to the different locales enabling the narrator Alfieri (Michael Cristofer) to slip in and out of recounting the story and being a part of the story as the lawyer that Eddie goes to for advice – doing an outstanding job with a role that could easily not make much of an impact.
But it is Liev Schreiber who emerges on top as the frustrated and tortured soul whose love for his wife has waned with the blossoming maturity of his niece; his jealously of Rodolpho careening out of control until the tragic denouement. He gives a tough, tender and altogether enthralling performance.
Scarlett Johansson is perfect as she slowly finds her independence, giving a nuanced and heartfelt look into the soul of her character. As is Jessica Hecht who does all that she can to save her husband, her marriage and her niece. Her desperation is quiet moving.
Surprising enough there is a lot of humor mined in the first act – where at times Eddie appears to be the forerunner to Archie Bunker, sitting in his armchair, head of the household while demeaning Rodolpho as a guy who isn’t right. As it turns out, the in denial Eddie is the guy who isn’t right.
See this production. It’s Arthur Miller done to perfection. www.aviewfromthebridgeonbroadway.com