Pacific Resident Theatre's 'A View From The Bridge' Delivers Explosive Drama

When one thinks of Arthur Miller's body of work, one doesn't immediately think "chronicler of Italian-American experience," but with A View From The Bridge, he revealed a further breadth of his talent. The lead characters of most of Miller's plays are imperfect men, from Willy Loman and John Proctor, and Eddie Carbone from View fits right in. The play has the bruising power of Greek tragedy, where character inexorably determines fate. The new production at Pacific Resident Theatre does Miller proud, with Vince Melocchi's explosive lead highlighting a superb ensemble.

In 1950s New York City, dockworker Eddie Carbone (Vince Melocchi) lives in a tenement with his wife Beatrice (Melissa Weber Bales) and his niece Catherine (Lisa Cirincione). Eddie is overprotective of Catherine, having raised her from childhood, to the annoyance of Beatrice, who sees the girl as an adult. This situation is exacerbated when Beatrice has two relatives from Italy, Marco (Satiar Pourvasei) and Rodolpho (Jeff Lorch), move into their apartment to illegally work in the U.S. Eddie notices Catherine and Rodolpho falling for each other, and the confused turmoil of emotion this raises in Eddie leads to tragedy for all concerned.

Melocchi centers the show with a performance of physical and emotional intensity that doesn't neglect subtlety as Eddie wars with himself and everyone else. The scene where Eddie intimidates Rodolpho via a "boxing lesson" is a master class in ratcheting up tension worthy of Michael Chiklis or James Gandolfini at their best. Bales has the difficult task of portraying a woman who loves and despises her husband simultaneously, and she pulls it off beautifully. Beatrice is the only character in the family with clear knowledge of what is transpiring within Eddie, and Bales makes it clear that Beatrice is trying to avoid tragedy from the very beginning. Cirincione excels as Catherine, who both loves and fears Eddie, and she gets the combination of youthful optimism and unexpected moral backbone just right. Lorch is charming and convincing as Rodolpho, and Pourvasei impresses as Marco, whose sober and respectful demeanor is camouflage for a man not to be messed with.

Co-directors Marilyn Fox and Dana Jackson have wisely focused on the quality of the performances here, instead of trying to impose some modern directorial take on the play. The result is an ensemble that rises to the material and delivers excellence. The staging of the final few scenes also deserves mention, with the entire ensemble placed around the theatre, witnesses to the unveiling of Eddie's sins, adding to the sense of catharsis. Pacific Resident Theatre has long deserved praise for its fine productions of classic plays, and with A View From The Bridge, the company has another winner on its stage.

"A View From The Bridge" plays through August 25 at Pacific Resident Theatre. Tickets are available online.