Eddie Carbone, an Italian-American, is a longshoreman, working at the docks of Brooklyn in the 1950’s. He lives with his wife, Beatrice, and their orphaned 17-ear-old niece, Catherine. They are about to welcome Beatrice’s cousins who are coming to America from Italy, seeking work. They are illegal immigrants. That’s how Arthur Miller’s, “A View From the Bridge” opens. Before it ends, we will get a look at the view of the feelings of the five characters as they struggle with their confusing but powerful emotions.
New Light Theatre is presenting the Miller classic in the intimate Black Box Theater at OperaDelaware Studios in Wilmington, Delaware. The theatre in the round brings us up close to the action where we can feel the pain of each character. Megan Bellwoar has assembled a fine ensemble led by John Jezior as Eddie Carbone.
When we meet the Carbones in their home, they are arguing about whether or not Catherine, who is the best student in her class, should take the school principal’s recommendation to leave school a year early (she will still get her graduation certificate the next year) to take a job as an assistant secretary, that will pay her $50 per week. Eddie wants to protect her daughter and doesn’t want her working yet. Catherine wants to earn her own money and become a woman.
Eddie also complains about the length of his niece’s new skirt, which he feels will attract the wrong sort of boys. All this comes into sharper focus when the cousins arrive. The older brother wants to work hard to get enough money to help his family and return to them in a few years. The younger one, Rodolpho, hopes to remain in the U.S. And when a romance seems to be developing between him and Catherine, Eddie sees it as a ploy to marry her to gain U.S. citizenship.
We watch and we wonder- is Eddie’s concern for his niece that of a typical parent (he has no kids and has raised Catherine with his wife) as the child becomes independent, or is he jealous, even obsessed with her. Is Rodolpho truly in love with Catherine or is he using her.
The play is introduced by Alfieri, who serves like a Greek chorus in classical plays, providing information but also commenting on the events as they unravel. He is also the lawyer who Eddie goes to for help. But Alfieri repeatedly tells Eddie he can do nothing.
Therein lies a cornerstone of the Miller play- when to speak up and when to be silent. In the aftermath of the McCarthy hearings where many (including Miller’s friend Elia Kazan) named names of those who might have had Communists ties, we wonder whether Carbone will report to the FBI about the illegal immigrants to protect his daughter… Or would he be protecting himself.
Jezior along with Elsa Kegelman who plays his daughter give the most riveting performances, but Trice Baldwin-Browns as his wife Beatrice and David Pica as Marco, the older brother Marco were also formidable in their supporting roles. There is angst. There is passion. There is power. New Light Theatre has brought it all to Delaware.
“A View From the Bridge” at New Light Theatre performed at OperaDelaware Studios, 4 S. Poplar St., Wilmington, De 19801, www.newlighttheatre.com Thru March 26, 2023