BWW Review: Fuse Theatre Ensemble Takes a Contemporary Perspective on a Classic in A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE
The 2019 Drammy Awards might well have been renamed "The Fuse Theatre Ensemble" show. The scrappy company with no permanent home won seven well-deserved awards, all for last season's brilliantly dark rendition of Cabaret. Next year's Drammy committee would do well to remember Fuse's latest offering, a site-specific production of Arthur Miller's A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, which just concluded its run at NW Marine Artworks.
A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE was a risky departure from Fuse's normal fare. As co-director Rusty Newton Tennant noted after the show, the "straight white male canon" isn't exactly what they're known for. Another thing that made the show risky was the performance space -- NW Marine Artworks is the former home of Northwest Marine Iron Works, a massive shipyard.
But, as someone once said, challenges bring out the best in us.
A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE is about Eddie Carbone (played by Ernie Lijoi), an Italian-American longshoreman who lives with his wife, Beatrice (Adriana Gantzer), and her orphaned niece, Catherine (Jacquelle Davis), in Brooklyn. Beatrice's cousins Marco (Eric Viale) and Rodolpho (Justin Charles) have come from Italy, entering the United States illegally, to stay with the Carbones and make their fortunes -- Marco so he can send money back to his wife and children, and Rodolpho to make a new life for himself in America. Tensions arise when Eddie starts to feel like the newcomers are taking things that he imagines are rightfully his. While the play was written in the 1950s, change the ethnicity of a few characters and you have a story ripped from today's headlines.
Fuse's production, directed by Tennent and Sara Fay Goldman, was dark and sparse -- the main set piece being Eddie's armchair -- concentrating the focus on Eddie's downward spiral. Lijoi is magnificent as Eddie. I almost didn't recognize him as Cabaret's Emcee, a role so different from this one it's hard to imagine how one person could inhabit them both. Watching him devolve, I gained a greater understanding of the angry people who dominate the news.
A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE is no longer running, but keep an eye out for what's next from Fuse Theatre Ensemble. Whatever it is, I've no doubt it will be worth a watch.
Learn more about Fuse here.