Regional Reviews: Chicago
The point of Van Hove's minimalist stagingwith the set by Jan Versweyveld providing little more than a door for exits and entrances and a raised platform with a box that covers it before and after the intermissionless play's actionseems to be to emphasize the timelessness of Miller's tragedy. In View, an Italian-American longshoreman living in 1950s Brooklyn finds his modest but stable life threatened when his wife Beatrice takes in two cousins who are undocumented immigrants from Italy. But there's another relative they've been housingBeatrice's niece Catherine, whom they took into their family many years ago and raised like their daughter. Catherine is now 17 and Eddie's paternal instincts seem to be turning into attraction for Catherine. There's no direct evidence of that, other than an accusation made late in the play and given the revelation that Eddie and Beatrice's sex life has been nonexistent for some time, one could consider other explanations. In any event, when Catherine and the immigrant Rodolpho become attracted to each other, things begin to go very badly for Eddie. And in Miller's framing devicea narration by the neighborhood lawyer Alfieriwe're told things will not end well. When Eddie learns that Catherine plans to marry Rodolpho, Eddie claims Rodolpho is gay and attempts to prove it by kissing him. Eddie reports both cousins to the INS. As Rodolpho and his brother Marco are taken away, Marco spits on Eddiea symbolic incident that ultimately leads to Eddie's death.
As in Miller's All My Sons and A Death of a Salesman, A View from the Bridge lays out a tragic flaw that leads his protagonists to their death. In Sons, it is greed, in Salesman, pride. In Bridge, I'll contend it's honor. Eddie's betrayal of family is an unforgivable breach of honor in Marco's eyes. For Eddie, the unforgivable sin is Marco's spitting on him. When Van Hove conceived his unique take on this piece, he may have felt fears around undocumented immigration would not resonate today and decided to develop a concept that would bring the play's deeper themes to the fore. As events have evolved, undocumented immigration is obviously a current topic, but certainly the male obsession with honor is an eternally relevant theme.
Ian Bedford gives a riveting performance as Eddie, showing his descent from a reasonable, stable man into one insanely motivated by rage. Nichols is an earthy Beatrice, frightened at seeing her husband first slip away from her and then horrified as the subsequent events portend tragedy. Catherine Combs gives a brilliantly layered performance as the girl maturing into womanhood, who must change her attitude toward Eddie from viewing him as a father figure to recognizing him as a threat. Abeles is a sexy and sensitive Rodolpho, and Ezra Knight an empathetic Alfieri. Brandon Espinoza is menacing in the small but ultimately crucial role of Marco.
A View from the Bridge will play the Goodman Theatre through October 22, 2017. For ticketing and additional information visit www.goodmantheatre.org or call 312-443-3800.