Sunday, October 11, 2015

Play: Bridgework

A View From The Bridge: By Arthur Miller, Directed by Braden Abraham, Seattle Rep, though October 18th.

The Rep leads off its season with a straightforward tale well-told, a bit of classic theatre that dusts itself off and knocks one out of the park. There are no surprises, no twists, no musicians, no special effects, no supernatural undercurrents, no puppets. Just good actors and good words.

It even starts out with the statement that you've seen this before - Leonard Kelly-Young is Alfieri the lawyer, who is our narrator and declares at the outset the relentlessness and eternity of the tragedy along with his own feeling of helplessness is preventing. That feeling of helplessness spreads to the audience as well as the tale unfolds.

Eddie Carbone -. (Mark Zeisler) is a longshoreman in Red Hook who controls his household - his wife, Bea (Kirsten Potter) whose life is confined to the role of wife and his niece Catherine (Amy Danneker), who has been overprotected with an uncle's affection that borders fully on the creepy and runs through the play. That personal fiefdom is threatened by the introduction of two cousin from the old country who are  illegal immigrants - "submarine men"; stolid, strong Marko (Brandon O'Neill)  and good-natured, flamboyant Rodolpho (Frank Boyd). Rodolpho and Catherine hit is off, and everything just runs to a natural and bloody conclusion.

And that's the thing about the writing - not a word is wasted, not a bit of fat I could have done without. The characters are straightforward but not one-note, and the actors bring nuance to the roles. I'd give highest marks to the women, Danneker and Potter, who capture the flavor fully, while Boyd verges towards that Balki from Perfect Strangers stranger-in-a-stranger land humorous immigrant. The fact that the world, and Eddie in particular, pushes back hard on Rodolpho, recognizing him as being "not right" for their universe, and therefore an invader, grounds the character fully.

One thought did occur to me after leaving the play: The entire family dynamic echoes the later All in the Family sitcom, particularly with Zeisler as blue collar Eddie. And while the TV show is based on the earlier britcom Till Death Us Part, Miller's shadow looms large over other productions that came along later, in this tragedy of a man trying to enforce his will against the changing universe. The line that Alfieri the Lawyer comes back to is "Take half and like it", and the tragedy is that this is an option that is never taken.

Solid theatre, well-performed. Go see it.

More later,