Waterford Museum-Showboat Barge in Red Hook, Brooklyn was the venue for Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge, presented by Brave New World Repertory Theatre as an AEA Showcase from May 31st-June 24th Directed by ALEX DMITRIEV, Produced by CLAIRE BECKMAN
This reviewer has witnessed several renditions of this particular masterpiece by one of America’s towering giants of 20th Century theater. And when I say towering, I can just as well mean it literally, since on two occasions I had the privilege of encountering Mr. Miller on the streets of New York, who at 6 feet 4 inches, certainly had the physical height, as well as warmth, equal to the depths of his best writings. This play, I have always assessed is deservedly among those of his canon so considered, be it “Death Of A Salesman”, “The Crucible”, “All My Sons”, and “The Price”. I conversed with the director of this production at intermission, and shared bewilderment of the partially held censure that this piece, originally penned as a one-act in 1955, and was subsequently developed into a full length play a year later, is at times considered to be somewhat below the standards of the above mentioned items of Miller’s oeuvre. Nonsense!
Few of his plays have been so often revived on Broadway, Off B’way, London’s West End, National Theater, Regionally across America, throughout Europe, adapted in film by no less a director than Sidney Lumet, and adapted as an opera by not one but TWO composers: Renzo Rossellini (director,Roberto’s brother) and American William Bolcom who directly collaborated with Miller’s libretto for a premiere at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1999. Various revivals have garnered succeeding awards such as numerous Tonys,, Oliviers, Drama Desks, Obies, Jeffs, and undoubtedly every other possible accolade this work can generate when it’s rendering is first rate. Happily, in the case of Alex Dmitriev’s staging on this Brooklyn Barge with the Statue of Liberty clearly in sight at this site-specific presentation, I suggest that a New York Innovative Theater Award also be so considered.
The fact that this presentation was produced by Claire Beckman to be “immersive theater” is already well documented recently in the highly informative interview by Laurie Graff for New York Splash Magazine with Beckman, who also did an excellent portrayal of Beatrice, and director, Dmitriev. Their particular teamed history with this play, and choice of the intensely intimate and appropriate venue certainly lent well to the stimulation of the evening. But, all the perfect settings in the universe cannot insure a successfully satisfying theater experience if the players along with the staging, projection, subtlety, pacing, and sense of ensemble unity is lacking in any way.
Last Friday night, ALL the proper elements were in perfect place and kept the capacity house (barge) utterly rapt to every utterance, movement, shift, and inexorable progress of Eddie Carbone (richly rendered in nuance and passion by Rich O’Brien), toward his tragic demise in Miller’s most spare echoing of Greek Tragedy in what in 1955 was a contemporary Brooklyn setting. Maggie Horan’s Catherine, the niece of Beckman’s Beatrice and O’Brien’s Eddie by marriage and object of Eddie’s suppressed forbidden desires, was fetching, sweet, intelligent, curious, and thoroughly convincing in her involvement of this sorrowful tale that was all too credible when Miller first heard its origin from the Sicilian born attorney who, as the character Alfieri (ably portrayed by Joe Gioco), narrates the story directly to the audience in the classic Greek tradition. Brothers Marco and Rudolpho, ( Ram Kanneganti and Jacob Dabby respectively), as the cousins to Beatrice who have emmigrated illegally from Sicily to find work with Longshoreman, Eddie on the Brooklyn docks and secretly live with them , were highly admirable in their contributions and enhanced the overall verisimilitude making the inevitable conclusion to this fated drama completely believable. Kudos also to Diana Duecker’s Lighting, Leegrid Stevens Sound and Brittani Beresford Costume Designs: ALL providing the period as well as the perfect ambiance of this waterfront vessel’s immersive setting.
Though this production is now history and added to the celebrated history of this work, be on the lookout for this company’s next offering:”A MUSLIM IN THE MIDST” by Anand Rao come this November at The Actors Fund Arts Center in Downtown Brooklyn to be directed by Ms. Beckman.: “O, brave new world, that has such people in’t!”
More information – bravenewworldrep website
Photo credit: Doug Barron