Review: A View from the Bridge (Goodman Theatre)

| September 23, 2017

Ian Bedford (Eddie), Catherine Combs (Catherine) and Andrus Nichols (Beatrice) star in View from the Bridge (2)             
      

  

A View from the Bridge

Written by Arthur Miller
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru Oct 15  |  tix: $25-$95  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     


    
  

Visually and emotionally brilliant

  

Daniel Abeles, Ian Bedford,  Catherine Combs, Brandon Espinoza and Andrus Nichols star in View from the Bridge

    
Goodman Theatre presents the Young Vic production of
    
A View from the Bridge

Review by Catey Sullivan

There’s a pall of suffocating dread woven through director Ivo Van Hove’s galvanizing take on Arthur Miller’s 1955 classic A View From the Bridge. Set in the 1950s, the story about immigration and incest is more than 60 years old, but it screams with urgency in the Goodman Theatre production.

Daniel Abeles (Rodolpho), Ian Bedford (Eddie) and Catherine Combs (Catherine) star in View from the BridgeEven in the moments of playfulness that pepper the seminal American tragedy, van Hove’s staging is thick with menace. You can feel the inexorable creep of something awful and inevitable closing in. It’s there in Eddie Carbone’s careless caress of his niece’s thigh. It’s in his wife Beatrice’s fearful, darting glances. And it’s there in the sulfurous half-light that bathes the opening scene in a hellish, fiery orange.

A View From the Bridge has always been grounded in a sense of Greek tragedy. In the Red Hook slums of Brooklyn dock workers – “the gullet of New York” – you can always feel the shades of Oedipus or Electra hovering close. The story of Eddie Carbone has no kings or epic wars. But the hardscrabble world of “submarines” (undocumented immigrants) and first-generation Italian-Americans has a towering nobility. Eddie’s downfall is as massive as the fall of any crowned head.

The lethal battle fought out over sex and turf and machismo in Red Hook is blazingly relevant. The plight of Beatrice’s cousins – starving in Sicily and determined to save their families by working the docks of Brooklyn – has obvious and overpowering parallels to current events. In the play’s other story – that of the toxic relationship between Eddie and Catherine – you can see the silence of countless contemporary women. In Catherine, you can hear echoes of all the countless women who feel too unsure or guilty or ashamed or confused to name their abusers or even admit that the abuse exists.

 Ian Bedford and Catherine Combs star as Eddie and Catherine in A View from the Bridge, Goodman Theatre Ian Bedford and Ezra Knight star as Eddie and Alfieri in A Vew from the Bridge, Goodman TheatreIan Bedford, Catherine Combs, Brandon Espinoza, James D. Farruggio and Andrus Nichols star in View from Bridge

Director van Hove’s production for the Goodman is essentially a replica of the New York staging of last year. The cast is different, but the design elements and the jaw-dropping scourge that rains down and makes the final scene indelible remains in place.

The plot centers on Eddie (Ian Bedford), a longshoreman who, with his wife Beatrice (Andrus Nichols), has raised his niece Catherine (Catherine Combs) as his own daughter. In the words of Alfieri, the Greek chorus/attorney who narrates the story (Ezra Knight), Eddie is not a man who “expected a destiny.” He works, he eats, he goes bowling.

Catherine is 17 at curtain up, but she’s still a child in many respects. She’s got the figure of a woman, but leaps into Eddie’s arms with the innocent joy of a toddler ecstatic to greet a beloved parent. Beatrice is increasingly aware of Eddie’s feelings toward his niece – and powerless to snuff it out. The more Beatrice tries to keep Eddie at an appropriate distance, the more angry, possessive and overbearing he becomes.

Eddie takes huge pride in being a provider and a patriarch, providing shelter not only for his wife and niece but for the “submarines” – the bull-like Marco (Brandon Espinoza) and his brother Rodolpho (Daniel Abeles). The tension ratchets up to all but unbearable levels when Catherine begins dating Rudolpho. Eddie decides is “not right” (aka, gay), and with obsessive viciousness, tries to destroy Rudolpho in the eyes of Catherine and the world.

Daniel Abeles (Rodolpho), Brandon Espinoza (Marco) and Ezra Knight (Alfieri) star in View from the BridgeIan Bedford (Eddie), Catherine Combs (Catherine) and Andrus Nichols (Beatrice) star in View from the Bridge (2) Ian Bedford, Catherine Combs, Ronald L. Conner, Ezra Knight and Andrus Nichols star in View from the BridgeIan Bedford (Eddie), Catherine Combs (Catherine) and Andrus Nichols (Beatrice) star in View from the Bridge

As the excellent cast makes its way through the text, the tension turns the Carbone house into a pressure cooker. As Alfieri sagely puts it, “There are times when you want to spread an alarm, but nothing has happened.”

The sense of danger reaches an astounding height in a long, largely silent scene involving Marco, Eddie and a simple, silly test of arm strength. van Hove’s direction of the scene gives it the lush, saturated feeling of a masterpiece oil painting. The image of Marco wordlessly proving just how much of a threat he can be is stunning.

When the explosion finally comes, it’s both inevitable and shocking. And as Alfieri predicted in the first act, it is also complete in its devastation. In the final moments of the production, van Hove turns the ensemble into a single organism, seething toward collapse under the punishing, pounding, bloody assault of some unseen omniscient force. Visually and emotionally, it’s brilliant.

Jan Versweyveld’s minimalist set is contained within a massive box that eventually descends like the wrath of god, crushing all within. Tom Gibbons’ sound design makes exquisite use of drums to underscore the tension. Gibbons also deploys a low, thrumming hum that’s often barely audible, but bathes the stage in a sense of anxiety that flits just out of reach. It’s like the audio remnants of a bad dream.

In van Hove’s telling, Eddie Carbone is not a monster. His actions are heinous, but in his point of view there’s a purity that cannot be denied. In some ways – like Oedipus – the seas have closed far over Eddie’s head. He’s buffeted by forces he has no chance of fighting. Despise him, mourn him, pity him or condemn him – his story makes for thrilling theater.

  
Rating: ★★★★
  

A View from the Bridge continues through October 15th at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map), with performances Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30pm, Thursdays 2pm & 7:30pm, Fridays 8pm, Saturdays 2pm & 8pm, Sundays 2pm.  Tickets are $25-$95, and are available by phone (312-443-3800) or online through their website (check for availability of half-price tickets). More information at GoodmanTheatre.org(Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes, no intermission)

Daniel Abeles, Ian Bedford, Catherine Combs, Ronald L. Conner, Brandon Espinoza, James D. Farruggio, Ezra Knight

Photos by Liz Lauren


  

artists

cast

Daniel Abeles (Rodolpho), Ian Bedford (Eddie), Catherine Combs (Catherine), Ronald L. Conner (Louis), Brandon Espinoza (Marco), James D. Farruggio (Officer), Ezra Knight (Alfieri), Andrus Nichols (Beatrice), Santino Craven, James D. Farruggio, Katherine Keberlein, Luigi Sottile, Dan Stearns, Raven Whitley (understudies)

behind the scenes

Ivo van Hove (director), Jan Versweyveld (set and lighting design), An D’Huys (costume design), Tom Gibbons (sound design), Jeff James (associate director), Briana J. Fahey (production stage manager), Kimberly Ann McCann (stage manager), Jacob Janssen (assistant director), James Turner (associate set designer), Douglas Petitjean (associate costume design), Nicola Brown (associate lighting design), Kate DeVore (vocal consultant), Walter Sculptures (special effects), Rachel Lincoln (rehearsal consultant), Jacob Janssen (asst. director), Hudson Scenic (scenery), Telsey + Company (casting), Adam Belcuore, Erica Sartini Combs (casting), Robert Falls (Goodman artistic director), Roche Edward Schulfer (Goodman executive director), Liz Lauren (photos)

Daniel Abeles (Rodolpho), Catherine Combs (Catherine) and Ezra Knight (Alfieri) star in View from the BridgeDaniel Abeles, Ian Bedford, Catherine Combs, Brandon Espinoza and Ezra Knight star in View from the Bridge

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Category: 2017 Reviews, Arthur Miller, Catey Sullivan, Drama, Goodman Theatre, Video, YouTube

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    Review: A View from the Bridge (Goodman Theatre) | Chicago Theater Beat

  2. Anonymous says:

    Liberal crap