Here’s one way to make a reviewer feel old. Director Louis Contey returns to Arthur Miller’s masterful production of “A View from the Bridge,” first staged for the Shattered Globe Theater 30 years ago, with original cast member Eileen Niccolai still reprising the role. role.
I was at the old Shattered Globe on Halsted Street 30 years ago, and again on Tuesday night at Theater Wit, watching poor dockworker Eddie, now touchingly played by Scott Aiello; she was fighting and swinging as her young niece, Catherine. Isabelle Muthiah is growing up and moving away from him.
I think it’s worth noting that Niccolai was a little young for the role of Eddie’s wife Beatrice 30 years ago, and a little old now. But it is a measure of his genius as a player that 30 years ago, at least as I recall, no age disparity was evident, and it is certainly not evident now. He presents an extraordinary mixture of sadness, resignation, regret and anger at the things he feels he cannot control. The big tragic situation is written very small, just as Miller intended.
Contey’s moving “A View from the Bridge” also stars the laconic John Judd (as the narrator lawyer Alfieri), Mike Cherry as the portly Italian immigrant Marco, and Harrison Weger as Rodolpho, the vulnerable object of both Catherine’s desire and desire , has a uniformly excellent staff. Eddie’s hatred. This is an intimate show focusing on intense stage work.
I point this out in part because “A View from the Bridge” can be performed on an operatic scale to spectacular effect. on Broadway in 2015 and or through the heartbreaking William Bolcom opera seen at Lyric Opera in 1999. This is not that kind of production: completely raw, simple and powerful, with recognizable people, a platform, a table and a few chairs. That doesn’t mean the design doesn’t exist: There’s a moment in the play where Miller writes that Eddie has tunnel-like eyes, and that’s exactly what Aiello’s eyes look like at that moment, thanks to Shelley Strasser’s lighting design. Stage design belongs to Shayna Patel.
Of course, all plays change from time to time, and it is now impossible not to see this work from 1955 in the context of the current immigration crisis in Chicago. In this work, immigrants from a different era cause the kind of turmoil that threatens those who mistakenly believe that the world does not always spin forward, leaving behind those who cannot cope.
But this is not a polemical drama; Miller sympathized with everyone; just as it had spread throughout Brooklyn, he now rarely sympathized with some of them.
But most importantly, he knew how people fail to understand the inevitability of change and loss, and how fear can turn into violence. Like many of Miller’s masterpieces, this play is filled with horror. “There are times when you want to sound an alarm,” says Alfieri; Judd draws out the words as if they’re coming from the pit of his aching stomach, “but nothing happened.”
Alfieri, a prophet of sorts, knows this will happen. After all, so is everyone else. No wonder the cast looked so exhausted in the arcs.
Chris Jones is a Tribune critic.
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Review: “A View from the Bridge” (3.5 stars)
When: Until October 21
Where: Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave.
Working time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Tickets: $40 at 773-770-0333 sgtheatre.org
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