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Civic Theatre caps season in a banner way
'View from the Bridge' dramatic, moving production

By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic

June 12, 2014

 
WAUKESHA - Arthur Miller’s most famous plays are “The Crucible,” “Death of a Salesman” and “All My Sons,” but there is another one, which should join the ranks of this impressive triumvirate - “A View from the Bridge,” a drama that deserves more recognition than it has gotten thus far.   

The Waukesha Civic Theatre’s present splendid production of this lesser-known work should put this searing drama back on the map. It is a powerful, professional rendition that creates a palpable reaction from the audience, leaving us moved and almost breathless.  

The play is set in the 1950s when immigration laws were tightening and attitudes toward homosexuality were still very restrictive and judgmental. There was often a sense of loyalty among those who immigrated here from the same country. Those who had obtained citizenship tried to support those who were seeking to become naturalized or to find a better job than was available in their own country.  

So the story begins in the household of Eddie Carbone, his wife, Beatrice, and his niece Catherine, whom they had raised after Eddie’s sister died. Eddie is a longshoreman and is devoted to his wife and niece, whom he tends to overprotect, but when he agrees at his wife’s request to temporarily let two Sicilian brothers, Marco and Rodolpho, stay with them while they earn some money and possibly gain citizenship, Eddie’s life changes radically. Eddie didn’t count on Rodolpho falling in love with his cherished niece, and to further complicate matters, he suspected that Rodolpho was gay because he didn’t fit Eddie’s stereotypical male preconceptions.  

The drama is structured with a narrator, a lawyer named Alfieri, who serves as a sort of Greek chorus, who at times is a character in the plot and other times is an interpreter of the action. Dave Boxhorn’s style perfectly fits the role.  

The tension in the play is generated and sustained by Eddie, so masterfully played by Noah Silverstein. He was mesmerizing, period. I don’t know when I’ve seen a more credible performance anywhere.  

Jacqueline Gosz as Beatrice was also compelling. She gave one a sense that she was strong but vulnerable, that she both loved and feared her husband. Catherine, the niece that Eddie couldn’t let go of, was very well portrayed by Gabriella Smurawa.  We really felt her conflict when she was forced to choose between Eddie and her new love Rodolpho. When everything explodes at the end of the play, we are not totally surprised, but the very raw moments left us emotionally exhausted, nonetheless.  

Rodolpho and Marco are memorably rendered by Ben Ludwig and Phil Birdener, respectively. What a cast, what sensitive direction by John Baiocchi, what an unforgettable experience for the audience. Thanks to all involved, including the scenic designer, Michael Talaska. Quite a fitting ending for a season with many worthwhile productions. This was their best.  

“A View from the Bridge” runs weekends through June 22 at the Waukesha Civic Theatre, 264 W. Main St. For show times the tickets, call 547-0708 or visit www.waukeshacivictheatre.org