Thursday, October 2, 2008

OSF: A View from the Bridge

"There's no one better than Arthur Miller for portraying male inadequacy. But at least he kills them in the end."

So said my Sweetie as we walked back to our Ashland headquarters after seeing Miller's A View from the Bridge, the first play of our week at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. And I knew I had my lead. Or "lede," as the cool kids are spelling it these days.

A View from the Bridge is set in 1955 in the Brooklyn tenement home of longshoreman Eddie Carbone, his wife Beatrice, and their teenaged niece Catherine. Eddie has it pretty good at the start, but things are about to go south.

In the beginning he reluctantly agrees to let Catherine take a job as a stenographer, about which she's excited because it might lead to a gig as a secretary some day. And, that night they're expecting boarders, Beatrice's cousins, a couple of "submarines" -- illegal immigrants from Italy -- who will hole up at their place while they scramble for work on the docks.

Marco, the elder cousin, sends cash back to his family in Sicily. Rodolpho, the younger cousin, is single, and spends his money on clothes, records, and Catherine. This rocks Eddie's world, and when Rodolpho and Catherine announce plans to marry he goes off the deep end.

In the riveting confrontation scene, Eddie plants big kisses on both Catherine and Rodolpho (the latter causing much tittering among the teenagers in the audience with their school groups) revealing that he desires them both. They're young, they're hot, and they have better lives ahead.

In the end Eddie calls immigration officers to come in, bust, and deport his wife's cousins. This makes him persona non grata in the neighborhood, and he spends the rest of the play fretting about getting his good name back. Before he's deported, Marco fights with Eddie and kills him.

Armando Durán is fabulous as Eddie Carbone, full of swagger and bravado and insecurity. The show has been running since July 23 and goes through Nov. 1. It must be tough playing such a role. One could get into a good villain with relish, but Eddie is just a schmuck. We've seen Durán in a few other shows in previous seasons at OSF.

Also worthy of note is the performance of Stephanie Beatriz as Catherine. She was spot-on, and had great on-stage chemistry with Juan Rivera LeBron, who played Rodolpho. Tony DeBruno played the lawyer, Mr. Alfieri, who also served as narrator and occasional counsel to the characters. Sadly, his advice to Eddie, "Let it go," went unheeded.

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