This week in Theater
Written by Arthur Miller
Review by Rose Desena
A View from the Bridge is my favorite Arthur Miller play. It’s a compelling journey of love, honor and justice among the Italian immigrants of New York City in the mid 1950’s, a life I know all too well being the granddaughter of Italian immigrants and growing up in a home much like the one depicted in this play.
Eddie is a hard working guy who succeeded at making a life for himself and his family. He is the center of the conflict and sets the tone for this family that falls into crises after helping two family members Marco and Rodolpho escape the poverty of Italy.
The Italian immigrants of New York City were no different than any other immigrant population. They stuck together, helped each other like parentless brothers and avoided the law as if it were a plague. The worse thing a man could be is a “stool pigeon” a term my father used in our house on a regular basis. Justice was self-policing and always handled within the community.
Eddie (Vince Melocchi) a good-hearted guy who turns ugly as his life and emotions slip away from him. His home is invaded and his relationship with his niece Catherine (Lisa Cirincione) is compromised. He is forced to make a choice that can only lead to a tragic end.
The tale is beautifully narrated in parts by Robert Lesser ( Alfieri), a lawyer and adviser to Eddie’s family. He knew early on things were going to end badly but he accepted the lack of power he needed to stop it. He moves us through the story standing with humbling stature expressing his fears with sincere emotion.
Marco (Satiar Pourvasei) is very believable as the quiet and serious Sicilian who’s only want in life was to work, provide for his family and return to Italy with full pockets. Rodolpho, (Jeff Lorch) does a good job convincing us he’s an Italian party boy who wants desperately to stay in America. He continues his accent without interruption throughout the play which is very difficult and I appreciated the work and commitment that took.
The Pacific Resident Theater always has stellar acting, and this is no exception. My problem with it, and yes I have one, is it’s a New York play and I don’t think it plays well with some members of this cast. In my opinion, this is one production that needs a hard New York actor that is not that trained but plays from his deep gut and life experience, one of those naturals that might just be a one trick pony who can only play a New York Italian.
I grew up on the New York streets and it did not ring true to my Italian ear. Eddie and Beatrice (Melissa Weber Bales) his wife sounded more like Archie and Edith Bunker rather than New York Italians. To some of you there might be some similarities but remember the Bunkers were fake, a TV show and just an interpretation of the writers.
Both Vince and Melissa are good but maybe that’s just the issue. There needed to be some unsophisticated hardness and grit that Miller portrays so beautiful in his writing. The accents are imperative to this piece of work. They were uneducated people living in a place where your accent was your identity. It let the people around you know who you were. It gave you your status like a Gucci bag or a BMW.
Both directors, Marilyn Fox and Dana Jackson, do a good job and it’s a good production but it lacks the extra punch I needed to put me in the living room that I grew up. I wanted to feel it. Miller, although he was Jewish, had the ability to dig deep, always doing his homework. He understood every character he wrote about as if they were part of his DNA.
If you are a fan of the Pacific Resident Theater or like dramas about the old days in New York, this will entertain you. My criticisms will most likely be unnoticed. It’s just I am pretty sentimental about New York Italian families.
Written: Arthur Miller
Director: Marilyn Fox & Dana Jackson.
Cast: Jerry Della Salla, Paul Anderson, Robert Lesser, Vince Cirincione, Melissa Weber Bales, Satiar Pourvasei, Jerry Della Salla, Jeff Lorch, Stephen Marshall, Michael Edelstein, Nikki D. Amico, Alex Valdivia
Runs: Thursday through Saturday @8pm and Sunday @3pm Closes Aug 25th
Pacific Resident Theater, 703 Venice Blvd. Venice Ca. 90291
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