Review: A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE at Long Wharf Theatre

This show runs through March 10

By: Mar. 03, 2024
Review: A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE at Long Wharf Theatre
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Long Wharf Theatre’s exceptional production of Arthur Miller’s play A View from the Bridge is not to be missed. Long-time “Wharf Rats” (yes, that’s what their loyal fans used to be called) are no longer seeing plays at the Sargent Drive warehouse complex, but in various venues in New Haven. Artistic Director Jacob G. Padrón and Managing Director Kit Ingui couldn’t have picked a better place – the Canal Dock Boathouse on Long Wharf Drive. How perfect is that for a show about a longshoreman?

To summarize the plot, Alfieri (Patricia Black) is a one person Greek chorus and lawyer in the play who handles small cases such as evictions. She explains that to the people of Red Hook, the area of Brooklyn where the play takes place, “Justice is very important here.” Alfieri narrates the story as it evolves, but her role takes a back seat to the others because Miller’s play is strongly character-driven. Nevertheless, her character is the bridge between the different cultures of her native Italy and her experience in the United States.

Eddie Carbone (Dominic Fumusa) lives in a tenement apartment in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn with his wife Beatrice (Annie Parisse) and his teenage niece Catherine (Paten Hughes). Katie lives with them because Eddie made a deathbed promise to her mother that he would be responsible for her. They are waiting for the arrival from Sicily of Beatrice’s cousins Marco (Antonio Magro) and Rodolpho (Mark Junek) who just came in as illegal immigrants. There was no work in Italy after World War II, but America was prospering.

Katie and Rodolpho are immediately attracted to each other, which bothers Eddie because he has more than avuncular feelings towards his niece. As Katie and Rodolpho grow closer, Eddie is more and more critical of him. He tries to warn Katie that he’s using her to get American citizenship. Alfieri tells the audience that as time went on with Rodolpho and Marco living in the apartment, “there was a trouble that would not go away.” Beatrice encourages Katie to make her own decisions and not to act like a child around Eddie. 

The trouble is Eddie and his growing grudges that Katie was growing up and wanted to be free and to marry Rodolpho. He is angry and resentful of his wife’s cousins and doesn’t feel he gets the respect his family owes him. When he reaches his breaking point, he anonymously calls the officials to tip them about illegal aliens at a specific address. The immigration officers (played by Mike Boland, who also plays fellow longshoreman Louis) and Todd Cerveris (who also plays Mike and Tony), come to arrest Marco and Rodolpho. Katie tries to defend Rodolpho by telling them that he was born in Philadelphia, but they don’t believe her. Marco knew who blew the whistle on them and comes for revenge. Eddie is still no less angry and brings a knife to the fight, but Marco uses it to stab him. Eddie dies in Beatrice’s arms.

The casting is superb. Dominic Famusa gives a tour de force performance as the formidable and complex Eddie. Annie Parisse balances Beatrice’s strength, compassion, and oppression brilliantly. Paten Hughes is amazing as a vulnerable young woman torn between gratitude and loyalty towards her family and her need to break away to pursue her happiness. Mike Boland and Todd Cerveris stand out even in their small but important roles. Mark Junek is sympatico as the ambitious Rodolpho. Antonio Magro is outstanding as the tough and sometimes menacing Marco. (This is his U.S. debut. He has performed professionally on the West End and in television. Will someone please give him his Actors’ Equity card stat?)  

James Dean Palmer’s first-rate direction makes this story as powerful now as it was in 1955, in part because of the hot button issue of illegal immigration, but mostly because he makes sure that every character shines.

The Boathouse is an impressive building that evokes history and privilege, but You-Shin Chen’s set design captures the simplicity and sparseness of the Carbone’s apartment, a law office, shown by a desk, and the street both adjacent to the living room and outside the building (literally), depending on the weather. The play was well-rehearsed for both scenarios and works well. Kate McGee’s lighting complemented the set well. Jane Shaw’s sound design could use a tweak or two for audiences in the back of the theater. Although the theatre can accommodate about 140 people, they seem to absorb some of the sounds. Risa Ando’s costumes were appropriate for the time and for the socioeconomic status of the characters.

Ashley Malafronte, the assistant director and dramaturg, writes “The ground beneath our feet was once the longest wharf in the country, a place of cargo and commerce that fed the community of New Haven. It was cleared away to make room for highways, trains – and, of course, a bridge. The salt air and familiar harbor remain, inviting you to imagine a similar waterfront just eighty miles away, nestled between the Brooklyn Bridge.”

The genesis of this play was a story that was apparently true and told to Miller by a lawyer who worked with longshoremen. Miller himself worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard while he was trying to pursue success as a writer. Miller was later a Connecticut resident. This critic believes Miller would have found complete satisfaction in this production of A View from the Bridge.

A View from the Bridge runs through March 10 at the Canal Dock Boathouse, 475 Long Wharf Drive in New Haven (off Exit 46 of the I-95). For tickets, call 203-693-1486, email, or visit the button below. Canal Dock Boathouse on Long Wharf Drive

Mark your calendars for the Long Wharf Theatre’s next production, Amm(I)Gone) from May 28 through June 23.