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Arts & Culture

Vexler tackles Arthur Miller's 'A View from the Bridge'

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Let's hug it out: The Vex's A View from the Bridge.

The Vexler rings in its spring season with a solid production of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge, a 1955 tragedy that bridges the divide between the Greek dramatic stage and the American kitchen sink. Like any good Greek tragedy — Oedipus, say — the play centers on the downward spiral of a central hero: in this case, Brooklyn longshoreman Eddie Carbone, a curious combination of total mensch and complete asshole. When two immigrants take shelter in Carbone's house, Eddie finds himself infuriated at the thought of his nubile niece Catherine falling for a fair-haired and charismatic newcomer, Rodolpho — indeed, Eddie seems to see in Rodolpho a rival for his niece's erotic affections. (This is of course very Greek, and very ewwwwwww.)

But the second half includes a surprise kiss that's Greek in a very different sense — indeed, this locking of lips elicits gasps from the normally staid patrons of the Vexler. Jim Mammarella's production hasn't quite figured out, however, what that kiss is doing in the play: the moment seems rushed and frantic, when it's clearly the linchpin for Miller's examination of Eddie's psycho-sexual problems. (Or, for that matter, the linchpin for Miller's examination of masculinity and homosexuality in post-war America.) Me, I wanted a kiss out of Casablanca: the moment's so weird, you might as well go for broke.

There's especially good work here from Eddie's women — Brandi Hollsten and Belinda Harolds — and Jared Stephens as Rodolpho; Rusty Thurman — last seen as a goofball George in Our Town — is somewhat miscast as a brooding dockworker. Roger Alvarez aims for courtliness in his interpretation of the narrator Alfieri but too often comes across as slow and halting. (His lack of accent is also jarring in a play so concerned with the collision of the Old World and the New.) Scott Leibowitz displays considerable chops (and stamina) as our pal Eddie.

Miller is always a pleasure, and has been missing from the Vex since The Crucible; it was clearly high time to put A View on view.

A View from the Bridge

$14-$20; 7:30pm Thurs, 8pm Sat, 2:30pm Sun
Sheldon Vexler Theatre
12500 NW Military
(210) 302-6835
Through February 26

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