From right, Damian Leverett as Eddie Carbone, Siena Richardson as his wife Beatrice as they welcome illegal immigrants from Italy. Rodolpho, played by Max Johnson and Marco, played by John Williams in the McLean Theatre Company’s presentation of "A View From the Bridge."
Photo by Alex McVeigh.
McLean It feels just a bit claustrophobic sitting in McLean High School’s small Black Box theatre for the McLean Theatre Company’s production of "A View from the Bridge." The simple set with the round dining room table and the worn armchair feels almost too real, as though there are actually people living here. So when the actors enter, the audience is pulled headlong into the searing family drama of the Carbones, Italian Americans in 1950s Redhook whose lives are forever changed by the arrival of a pair of illegal immigrants to their home.
McLean’s production was characterized by strong relationships between each of the principle characters. The dynamics of these various interactions were highly nuanced, matching the complexities of the characters themselves. The troubling connection between patriarch Eddie (Damian Leverett) and orphaned niece Catherine (Lexie Shoaibi) was particularly well played as the characters’ struggles throughout the course of the play were fully grasped by the actors. Leverett effectively used heavy, borderline violent mannerisms to convey Eddie’s troubled mind and his inner turmoil over taboo attraction and the thought of losing someone he truly cares about. Shoaibi, meanwhile, was able to communicate both Catherine’s genuine love for Eddie and her growing fear of him.
The relationship between Eddie and his wife, Beatrice (Siena Richardson), was also well developed. Richardson’s mature vocal tone and grounded posture gave strength to her portrayal of a middle-aged character and her agitation over her husband’s disturbing behavior grew organically over the course of the show.
Some of the show’s only light moments were provided by Max Johnson’s portrayal of Rodolpho, Beatrice’s cousin who comes to America in hope of making a better life for himself. Johnson’s sweet voice and devastatingly adorable facial expressions had audience members cooing. However, Johnson also brought to life Rodolpho’s ardent hope to become a "real American."
The technical elements of the production were typified by an intense realism and poignant symbolic resonance. The intensive attention to detail meant that everything from the worn look of Eddie’s shoes to the genuine 1950s Monopoly board and gorgeous period lamp on the narrating lawyer’s desk contributed to the feeling of being in another time and place. The marvelous costumes were especially impressive in the way that they juxtaposed different characters, particularly Beatrice and Catherine. Catherine’s schoolgirl skirts with Scottie dog print and bold white polka dots on bright red contrasted with Beatrice’s similar but more demure outfits, highlighting Catherine’s comparative youth. While the lighting design was for the most part fairly simple, one scene in which the street outside the Carbones’ apartment was cast blood red potently foreshadowed the play’s tragic end. The cast and crew of "A View from the Bridge" worked together to create an impeccably styled and emotionally powerful show. Though the play is set decades ago, this production imbued it with a life that made it unforgettable.