America's greatest playwright weaves "a vivid, crackling, idiomatic psychosexual horror tale." --Frank Rich, The New York Times Winner of the 2016 Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Play and Best Direction of a Play: Ivo van Hove. In A View from the Bridge Arthur Miller explores the intersection between one man's self-delusion and the brutal trajectory of fate. Eddie Carbone is a Brooklyn longshoreman, a hard-working man whose life has been soothingly predictable. He hasn't counted on the arrival of two of his wife's relatives, illegal immigrants from Italy; nor has he recognized his true feelings for his beautiful niece, Catherine. And in due course, what Eddie doesn't know--about her, about life, about his own heart--will have devastating consequences. "The play has moments of intense power. . . . Miller plays on the audience with the skill of a master." --Clive Barnes, New York Post
Its hard for me to say to much towards the content of the play. It's such a short play, I feel like I would be giving the entire story away.
Miller first heard the story of Eddie and his family from a water-front worker and decided to write it as a play. He first wrote it as a "mood experiment" (vii). He "wanted the audience to feel toward it as I had on hearing it for the first time—not so much with heart-wringing sympathy as with wonder" (vii). After a dismal debut which led to a major rewrite, Miller achieved his goal.
This story is full of tension. Imagine the low cello note in the backdrop of a suspense movie. That note builds throughout the play and doesn't relent until the climax. Miller gives us characters and relationships of psychological depth.
This play is a study in desire gone wrong. This is human nature left to play out its vices.
Set in the 1950’s, Eddie, his wife Beatrice, and orphaned niece Catherine shared modest accommodations in a Brooklyn that was predominately inhabited by newly immigrated Italians, including illegals called “submarines”. Eddie is incessantly protective of Catherine. An undertone of this protectiveness reveals itself early, recognized by all but Eddie himself. Enter Beatrice’s 2 cousins, brothers Marco and Roldopho, who arrive as submarines and sleeping on their floor. Catherine and Roldopho start dating and soon speak of marriage. Eddie is unimpressed with Roldopho, particularly since he exhibits traits typically viewed as effeminate, believing Roldopho’s intentions is only to gain citizenship. Eddie’s increasing paranoia leads to visits to the neighborhood lawyer, Mr. Alfieri, and eventually leads to tragedy for himself and those around him.
Fundamentally, the premise of this play is basic but it packs a punch. I was drawn to the tightness of the writing style as well as its various themes. Love, even if rooted innocently, can lead to unintended consequences. Overprotectiveness of a child may lead to rash decisions of the child once he/she is grown. The ease to which a man is assumed to be homosexual simply because he sings, cooks, and sews. A tight-knitted neighborhood will readily raise up against one of its own when a fundamental rule is broken. The U.S. is built by the masses who arrived in search of jobs and opportunity. From Roldopho, “What would you eat? You can’t cook the view!” A man demands respect in his home and from his wife; sadly, the wife is controlled, as if owned, by the husband. (Argh!)
Curiously, both Eddie and Marco wanted laws to work in their favor – the former seeking a law to prevent a relationship where “the guy ain’t right”, while the latter seeking a law to revenge dishonor. The use of Mr. Alfieri as the narrator of the play is highly effective. He provided the neutral stance amongst the warring factions and explained the charm of this Brooklyn neighborhood: "…this is Red Hook, not Sicily. This is the slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge. This is the gullet of New York swallowing the tonnage of the world. And now we are quite civilized, quite American. Now we settle for half, and I like it better. I no longer keep a pistol in my filing cabinet.”