'A View from the Bridge' powerfully engages audience

by Jaime Padgett | 11/20/03 6:00am

Creepy figures lurked in the shadows, eerie music echoed throughout the auditorium -- and yet the seats steadily filled. But, the spooky and off-putting atmosphere did not repel. Rather it drew people into its depths. The time was 8 p.m., the place was Moore Theatre, and the audience, well, no one could have prepared them for what was to come.

The play, "A View from the Bridge," transported the audience to another time and place. Written by Arthur Miller, the play truly captures what Miller called "the common man being torn fromwhat and who [he is]."

"A View from the Bridge," a "modern tragedy" followed the signature style of Arthur Miller and traced the destruction of the protagonist's world and ultimately of himself.

There's nothing special about Eddie Carbone, played by Jonathon Smolian '04; he just happened to be the protagonist in this play.

The clacking of heels and the shuffling of feet opened the play, as the cast scurried onto the dark stage, assuming their positions. No one spoke. No music sounded in the background.

The screaming silence of the first few moments created a tension that could have been spliced with a knife.

Then the stage suddenly erupted. Characters skipping and chanting, singing, gambling and dressing.

Center stage was the set of a house, complete with kitchen table and chairs. Catherine, the young woman of the story, played by Nicola Korzenko '07, is helped to quickly slip the stylish clothing of the 1940s over her undergarments.

The frivolous activity with which she is introduced is rather ironic, though -- Catherine played a crucial role in the self-destruction of Eddie, her uncle and the father figure in her not-so-young life. Throughout the play, Catherine is caught in a battle between her own wants and the duty she feels to Eddie for having raised her.

Eddie is married to Bea-trice, played by Katia Asche '04. Beatrice has smuggled two of her cousins, living in destitute poverty in Italy, to America to come live at her home.

These dynamic cousins, Rudolpho (Andrew Dahl '05) and Marco (Cliff Campbell '04), provide delightful comic relief, with lines like, Rudolpho's remark "I have a nice face, but no money" and Marco's response "when you have no wife, you can have dreams" by Marco.

These cousins wreak havoc in the Carbone home, though, especially when Rudolpho begins to court Catherine.

In doing this, he creates a rage within Eddie, a rage that slowly destroys him, provoking rivalry between he and his two guests.

One of the play's most powerful scenes is at the end of Act I.

Marco challenges Eddie to lift a chair, the catch being to lift it one-handed from the bottom of one of the legs.

Eddie struggles but can not do this, whereas Marco seemingly effortlessly lifts the chair.

It was a truly amazing scene. Every cast member from the principals to the chorus looked on with an intensity that permeated the air of the Moore.

The set included a brick wall, with arches where the chorus stood. This design created a slightly disturbing feeling, with the chorus never being lit by the stage lights and remaining very mysterious. This convention was amazingly successful, taking into account the edgy tone of the play.

Director Jackon Gay's casting proved effective as particular actors had great chemistry together.

Korzenko and Dahl did such a great job of creating a sexual tension between their characters that the heat could be felt in the back row.

The production was also an incredible display of acting skills on Smolian's part.

The sheer frustration and desperation felt by the character created an air of sympathy amidst the audience.

The production also succeeded in rendering homage to the great Arthur Miller and while "you have to push everything in [Rudolpho's Italian] town," no pushing is needed for this play. The cast and crew did an excellent job of creating a production that stands on its own.

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