A View From the Bridge at the Ahmanson

Gordon and I went to see A View From the Bridge at the Ahmanson last night. We skipped Kendall’s because he’d been in a class all day and didn’t get home in time. I was uneasy when I read the program; it stated that the show would be performed without an intermission. That’s usually a sign that the show is such a bore that nobody comes back after the first act. Well, I wasn’t bored. I guess they removed the intermission to keep the tension high. The play is about a longshoreman, his wife, and his niece. I was a little creeped out when the niece meets the longshoreman at the door by jumping up and wrapping her legs around him. Maybe it was cute when she was ten but she’s eighteen now. The family came from Sicily and they talk about a guy who ratted out an illegal to Immigration. Then you add two illegal relatives of the wife who come to the US for work. And of course the niece falls for the younger illegal who may or may not be gay. That’s the set up for a disaster which is narrated by the lawyer the longshoreman goes to for advice. The play discusses the relationship and sexual strains between a father and daughter. Jealousy is also a big theme. The wife is jealous of the niece, the longshoreman is jealous of the illegal…Lots of emotions floating around. I won’t detail the plot any further but this is Arthur Miller so the end isn’t pretty.

I found the play riveting but I was a little put off by the staging. The director gave us the feeling of a thrust stage by putting some audience members on either side of the stage with the actors in a minimalist set in the middle. Unfortunately, most of the audience (including me) were facing a procenium stage so when the actors –who weren’t miked–were facing away from us I couldn’t hear. I didn’t see the point. If you want to use a thrust stage, use the Taper not the Ahmanson. I enjoyed all the performances; the actors are great. I wondered why they were barefoot. I found out when they’re bathed in blood/water at the end. It was an effective piece of stage business. The actors playing the Sicilians didn’t use an accent. I suppose to remove an us/them feeling. I was pontificating to Gordon as we were leaving that I thought the title of the play referred to the bridge between New and Old World cultures and how the family saw things. Gordon said it was probably just about where the family lived–under the Brooklyn Bridge. That deflated me a bit. When you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras.

Anyway, it was interesting production. Very dramatic and gave me lots to think about.

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About Barbara Schnell

I've dedicated my life to full-time employment avoidance. I've been an actress, renovated a 1921 California Bungalow, set a cash-winning record on $25,000 Pyramid, and came in last on Jeopardy. I live in Los Angeles with my patient husband and two cats.
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