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Review: A View from the Bridge

Phoebe Fox, Mark Strong and Nicola Walker in a scene from Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge.

Phoebe Fox, Mark Strong and Nicola Walker in a scene from Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.

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Last week, I noticed that TodayTix had seats available for A View from the Bridge on Broadway. By coincidence a good friend of mine recently told me that I HAD to see Ivo Van Hove’s (the director of the play) work. So I bought a ticket. The seat was in the poor people section but I didn’t care.

I was so excited that I told two friends of mine (Joshua & Christopher) to go acquire tickets, too. When we arrived at the theater, the ushers escorted us to Bayonne.

I was reminded why I don’t like poor people seats from the moment the show began. The production uses a pseudo-thrust stage, with audience members seated on the stage. Before the show began, there was a “black box” curtain around the playing area.

The show began and the curtain came up — but not all the way. So, basically, anyone seated in the balcony had an obstructed view. Anytime an actor moved upstage, his or her head was cut off.

In other words: you got to see a lot of torsos. Perfect for folks who use dating apps like Grindr or Scruff. But not everyone uses Grinder or Scruff. That’s a problem.

If the director, Ivan  had simply forced the set designer to lift that damned “black box” curtain five or six feet higher, all of us poor people would have been able to see all of the actors’ faces throughout the play.

A View from the Bridge opens with a shower scene. Curiously, the actors were shirtless but still wearing their pants. They did eventually remove their slacks to change into another pair of slacks but it didn’t make sense. Logic aside, the homoerotic imagery in this very heterosexual play about incestuous longings was refreshing.

This is a critically acclaimed London transplant so it shouldn’t have surprised me that I detected some dialect issues that really bothered me. For example, in Brooklyn circa 1955, when people said the word “work,” they didn’t drop the “R.” They probably said “woik.”

And get this: later on in the play (maybe 15-20 minutes), two characters, Rodolpho (the sexy Russell Tovey) and Marco (the sexy Michael Zegen), arrive fresh off the boat from Italy — but they spoke with perfect midwestern American accents. Even if they came from Italy, Texas, they still wouldn’t speak that way.

To whomever is the dialect coach for this production, I say, “Get outta hea!”

Curiously, the characters do not wear shoes (the main character, Eddie (the sexy Mark Strong), spent all of his money raising his orphaned niece (Phoebe Fox) so they probably couldn’t afford shoes). With the help of my binoculars, I can report that Rodolpho has the nicest feet of the bunch. His chest wasn’t so bad either.

The characters talked. They moved around. They talked some more. They advanced the plot.

I usually hate so much talking but the director, Ivanhoe, kept the pace moving briskly. The lack of set pieces probably helped. The actors were forced to keep it moving — otherwise, they may have dilly dallied with unnecessary props and stuff.

The story/play culminates with all the actors in a big group hug. Then blood rains from the sky and everybody falls down. And squirms. And flails. And flops.The end.

Walking to the subway with Joshua and Christopher, I said “It was cute. But the choreography was weak. What do you think?”

“The incest thing was weird,” Christopher said. “He raised her but it sounded like he wanted to rear her.”

Joshua replied, “You raise plants but you don’t rape them.”

The whole experience got me thinking.

When I arrived home, I searched YouTube for the Scarlet Johansen revival to see how it differed. Well… Scarlet’s production had MUCH better dialect — but Ivan Hoe’s production is the only way I would want to see it.

Honestly, Ivanhoe’s production of A View from the Bridge is very good. It’s worth seeing. What keeps it from being great is obstructing the view for us poor people in the balcony and the trouble with dialects…

NOTE TO THE PUBLICIST: Feel free to use “You raise plants but you don’t rape them.” or “Cute!” as pull quotes. You’re welcome.

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