Los Angeles Theater Review: A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE (Pacific Resident Theatre)

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by Jason Rohrer on July 7, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles

IN PLAIN SIGHT

Eddie Carbone (Vince Melocchi) is a good man whose frustration at not getting everything he deserves –  in this case his adopted niece Catherine (Lisa Cirincione) – costs him his soul. Such is the tale told in 1956’s A View from the Bridge, the play that marks the chronological boundary of “beloved” Arthur Miller plays.  As Brooks Jason Rohrer's Stage and Cinema LA review of Pacific Resident Theatre's A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE in Venice.Atkinson said of an earlier verse incarnation, this slice-of-life melodrama “aspires a little above its station.”  It’s Greek in its framing and dated in its obviousness.  To produce it at all is to beg the question of why.  To direct it as written, as PRT artistic director Marilyn Fox and Dana Jackson have done, is to trust the bald script to supply all necessary gravity, character, and subtext.  But a play so unsubtle as to employ a chorus (Robert Lesser) to echo a squalid domestic perversion is a play that requires ingenuity and outright intervention in its staging.  Ms. Fox and Ms. Jackson have posed a stageful of talented actors like Playhouse 90 figurines, in a production strangling on predestined fate.

It’s precisely when the end is a foregone conclusion, in the tradition of great tragedy, that a show needs the most nuance and color.  A representative symptom of this show’s troubles may be found in Mr. Melocchi’s manner of smoking a cigar: it’s credible, but it’s also nonspecific.  In a well-directed play, an object may lead double and triple lives, but the one life it cannot lead is “just a cigar.”  One can’t tell whether Eddie strokes Catherine’s cheek in paternal clear conscience or in contemplation of lust.  These gestures are place-holders that don’t tell story, illuminate theme, Jason Rohrer's Stage and Cinema LA review of Pacific Resident Theatre's A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE in Venice.delineate character.  By the end of the play, the stoic Eddie has not communicated to the audience whether he is even capable of understanding his crime; and so the horror of his tragedy is reduced to mean-spirited vice.  Equally unrewarding is the decision to direct Catherine as a naïf, innocent as her words; if there were a hint of complicity with (even cognizance of!) her uncle’s unconscious designs upon her, a little complexity might creep into this banal world.  As it is Melissa Weber Bales, as Eddie’s wife Beatrice, and Ms. Cirincione do especially valiant work mining the gold here; they have the benefit of the play’s most fully realized characters, and share the single exchange written at the level of Death of a Salesman or The CrucibleA View from the Bridge is an amber-trapped issue play that lacks the specific beats, the clarity of language, the relentless drama of the best Miller, and so directors must exploit and manufacture, not (as they say in Hollywood) simply “shoot the script.”

photos by Vitor Martins

A View from the Bridge
Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice
EXTENDED to November 24, 2013
for tickets, call (310) 822-8392 or visit http://www.PacificResidentTheatre.com

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rose Desena July 17, 2013 at 8:55 am

Right on, Jason. I think I was so disapointed that I missed some of the points you so diligently brought to our attention. I enjoy reading your reviews
Regards
Rose Desena

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