By Michael Aushenker
Pacific Resident Theatre’s production of Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge” brings together two of the Venice company’s veteran theater artists as co-directors: Marilyn Fox, a longtime artistic director, and Dana Jackson, who joined the company in 2001.
The production, underwritten by Cannon Family Foundation, features an ensemble cast of a dozen equity actors headed up by Vince Melocci as the tragic figure Eddie Carbone.
The 99-seat equity theater’s mission statement has always favored “lesser known plays by known writers,” Jackson said, so the company bypassed more renowned Miller plays such as “The Crucible” to go down this less-traveled path.
Originally staged as a one-act piece at the Coronet Theatre (today, the Eugene O’Neill Theatre) on Broadway, “A View from the Bridge” is a story in two acts and set in an Italian-American household near the Brooklyn Bridge that becomes a hotbed of conflict after an illicit affair. A love triangle between married longshoreman Eddie and his orphaned niece Catherine spins out of control when Catherine rejects Eddie to become engaged to Eddie’s wife’s cousin, Italian immigrant Rodolpho, and culminates with a crime of passion.
“It’s inappropriate because of their relationship and it’s inappropriate because of her innocence,” said Jackson.
Jackson said that the critical piece of casting in “A View From the Bridge” came with enlisting Lisa Cirincione to play 17-year-old Italian ingénue Catherine.
“The fact that she has fallen in love with Rodolpho becomes a threat to [Eddie] and his passion overtakes his reason,” she said.
Miller first staged a one-act version of his play in 1955 but overhauled the piece in 1956, the same year he began a five-year marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Miller had first crafted his play to capture life on the Brooklyn docks in screenplay form for movie director Elia Kazan, but Miller’s screenplay, “The Hook,” was never produced. Kazan instead hired “What Makes Sammy Run?” writer Budd Schulberg and made the1954 Best Picture Oscar-winner “On The Waterfront.”
Luchino Visconti, who had directed a stage version of Miller’s play in Italy, borrowed heavily from the premise of “A View from the Bridge” for his 1960 film “Rocco and His Brothers.” Sidney Lumet directed a 1962 film adaption of Miller’s play starring Maureen Stapleton.
Pacific Resident Theatre believes that Miller’s incendiary mid-century meditation on morality and desire has not lost any of its bite since its heyday six decades ago.
“We tried to stay as true to the play as possible,” Jackson said. “I hope that people go away with a strong sense of forgiveness and some insight into how complex we really are.”
“A View From the Bridge” runs at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 24 at Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice. Tickets are $20 to $28. Call (310) 822-8392 or visit pacificresidenttheatre.com.