A Mesmerizing “View” at Ruskin Group Theatre

Abruzzo, Chase, Leonard. Photo by Alex Nehar.

Almost everyone knows about Arthur Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman, that exposes the pursuit of an American Dream with tragic consequences.  But fewer people know how much Miller was intrigued by the immigrant population of Italians and how closely he observed the pressure-cooker that made up the insulated community of dock workers in Brooklyn.  

Originally conceived in operatic form, A View from the Bridge took over Miller’s imagination until he revised and expanded the inevitable tale of misplaced passion and brought the poetic form down to the grittiest reality that suited the Method: the prevailing acting style of mid-twentieth century.

Now the Ruskin Group Theatre presents the play as freshly as if it were 1960 again.  Dedicated to the most rigorous truth, director Mike Reilly guides his cast through the tale of an inevitable catastrophe of classically tragic dimensions.  In doing so, the play is lifted from being an also-ran to Miller’s “Death,” and brings it to Aristotelian stature.

Eddie Carbone (a magnificent Ray Abruzzo) lives cozily with his wife, Beatrice (a solid Kim Chase), and niece, Catherine (Aurora Leonard).  The play begins with the arrival of Beatrice’s distant relatives who have arrived illegally from Italy.  Rudolpho (Brandon Lill) is intent of sending money home to his wife and children, while his younger brother, Marco (Jesse Janzen), has dreams of success as a singer.  The young man proves to be a temptation for young Catherine, and, soon, she and Marco decide that they will marry. The only trouble with this arrangement is Eddie’s unholy obsession with his young niece.  The pressure rises on the household until it must explode.

Abruzzo as Eddie Carbone is mesmerizing at the center of Ruskin’s revival, portraying a man whose most dangerous enemy is himself; Kim Chase is his equal as she probes this way and that in an attempt to find an avenue through to her conflicted husband; and Aurora Leonard is point-perfect as a young woman emerging into adulthood. In fact, all the performers, down to the most casual passers-by, attack the work with signature realism in a perfect marriage of material with performance.

This is an exceptional, if harrowing, production of a long-ago story of mythic proportions exemplified by the presence of a “Chorus,” (narrator/attorney Alfieri (Sal Viscuso) and brought to life under the careful guidance of producers John Ruskin and Michael Myers.  Bravo.

A View From the Bridge continues Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm through October 8th, 2023. Tickets range from $25 –  $35.  For reservations, phone 310-397-3244, or online at www.ruskingrouptheatre.com.