Reviewed by Megan Grabowski
Welcome back, Thoroughline Theater Company!
My first introduction to Throughline is at their new home, Carnegie Stage, for Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge, Throughline’s first production in two years. Perhaps A View From the Bridge seems like an antiquated choice (it originally debuted in 1955). Still, I believe theatergoers will appreciate the many timeless themes of the play.
Directed by J. Cody Spellman, the show begins with the narrator and attorney Alfieri (David Ogrodowski) describing an event that occurred with a dream-like and ominous remembrance. The event concerned Eddie Carbone (Ernesto Mario Sánchez), a longshoreman. He lives with his wife Beatrice (Katy Risotto) and niece Catherine (Annie Batista). Eddie and Bea have raised Catherine since she was a young child, but as she approaches her 18th birthday, it becomes evident Eddie lusts for Catherine and that Catherine has an unhealthy bond with her uncle. Their relationship begins to unravel when two of Beatrice’s cousins arrive illegally from Italy to stay with the family. Marco (Maher S. Hoque) is a quiet man who wants to work and send his earnings home to his starving wife and children. Rodolpho (Dan Mayhak) is a wistful, carefree man who enjoys singing and dancing and hopes to become an American citizen. Despite their opposite personalities, both men get along fine with their host family until Eddie discovers Catherine and Rodolpho are dating. The possessive Eddie attempts to convince Catherine that Rodolpho is a homosexual and is using her as an easy path to citizenship. Catherine rejects this notion and distances herself from Eddie. Eddie consults with Alfieri, hoping legal measures are available to stop the developing romance. Alfieri explains the only option available to Eddie is to report Marco and Rodolpho to immigration. Eddie struggles with his allegiances- to his family, the community where he resides, his cultural heritage, and to his own ego. Eddie’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic, and his thoughts unhinged. Family and friends become targets for victimization as Eddie’s actions pave the way toward his own self-destruction.
Throughline’s cast has a natural chemistry that allows for an easy exchange of dialogue and movement. Enhanced by a minimal set, the audience is easily intoxicated by the spiraling plotline and intense emotion depicted on stage.
Sánchez illustrates Eddie’s rapidly declining mental state with impressive stamina and passion. Mayhak’s tender gazes and simple gestures generate a cloud of ambiguity surrounding Rodolpho’s relationship with Catherine, cementing a thick tension between the characters. Beatrice, a mother figure for Catherine, is also conflicted by the need to protect her own interests. Risotto’s Beatrice exudes the traits of a caretaker: anxious, honest, and strong. Batista’s graceful performance immediately draws in the audience and perfectly complements Sánchez passion.
Together their theatrical rapport provokes genuine empathy and concern from the audience. Hoque’s Marco is typically silent and subtle, he initially appears elusive. As the story unfolds, he presents Marco’s character as insightful and prevailingly powerful.
Ogrodowski’s Alfieri carries himself like a harbinger of doom. Alfieri, is a framing device, and Ogrodowski’s performance expertly elevates the apprehension and anticipation in the plot.
Aside from the skillful casting, Hope Debelius’ use of lighting enhances the ominous actions taken by Eddie and the dark twists of fate enveloping the characters in the aftermath.
The mark of an excellent playwright is their ability to write something relevant to their day and age yet will resonate with audiences for years to come. A View From the Bridge was a piece of its era, a criticism of McCarthyism. It is also concerned with familial relationships, intimacy, immigration, law, and the justice system. Throughline’s rendition continues to add to contemporary conversations surrounding these important issues at this moment in time.
A View From the Bridge is playing now through August 6 at Carnegie Stage, 25 W Main St. Carnegie, PA 15106, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 8pm with matinees Saturday, July 30, Sunday, July 31, and Saturday, August 6 at 3pm. Take note that masks and proof of vaccination are required. For tickets visit: http://www.throughlinetheatre.org/tickets-and-pricing