Sunday, January 24, 2010

A View From the Bridge

photo: Joan Marcus

It takes less than five minutes of watching Gregory Mosher's superb production of Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge to realize why this particular drama is revived so often: aside from being tautly written and briskly paced, it is an ideal showcase into which a group of talented actors can sink their teeth. And in that respect, we seem to have hit the motherload. Playing brilliantly against type, Liev Schreiber gives his best performance to date (in any medium) as Eddie Carbone, the paranoid longshoreman who cannot shake a sexual attraction to his beloved niece, Catherine (Scarlett Johansson, in an electric Broadway debut). Schreiber burrows under Eddie's skin and manages to convey the wide array of Eddie's emotions, along with the guilt that they proffer. Fresh off her turn in the much-too-short-lived Brighton Beach Memoirs, Jessica Hecht steps into the role of another long-suffering Brooklyn matron--Eddie's neglected wife, Beatrice--with aplomb. A consistently solid stage actress, Hecht also scores a personal triumph here, genuinely reflecting Eddie's conscience. The rest of the cast, which also includes the usually cloying Michael Cristofer as a surprisingly effective Alfieri, is top-to-bottom terrific, and Mosher's fluid staging is refreshingly unimposing, allowing the actors to work their magic on the text. The entire evening is a testament to the power of American drama.

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