When Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge” first opened on Broadway in 1955, it was not a success. The playwright withdrew the work, save for a British revival, thinking he needed to rework it, and it is that version that we know as the play. Actors Workshop Theatre has made the bold move to present the original 1955 version, which given Miller’s minimalist set requirements where all of the action takes place in a Brooklyn apartment, is perfectly suited for the group’s small venue space. Is it a better play than the rewritten version that we know? No, particularly in the awkward device of the minor character of the lawyer of the story serving as its narrator and storyteller (how would he know the intimate dealings of the Carbone household: he only knows what little Eddie has told him, and in confidence?). Also greatly missed are the neighborhood characters that act as a kind of Greek chorus or witnesses to Eddie’s betrayal of his cousins, although co-directors Michael Corlucci and Jan Ellen Graves (the former who also plays Eddie), attempt to fill that void by having choral passages from Puccini’s “Turandot” piped in. Eddie is also a much less sympathetic character here, given that Miller later added exposition and domestic material that ambiguously suggests the possibility that his niece Catherine (Eva Gil) was innocently leading on her uncle with her girlish over-affections. But one aspect of the more streamlined original that was lost along the way that is far more effective here is the way in which the tension builds up across a single, virtually verismo-like act instead of being broken up. And the play’s heart—its questions about lust and loyalty, honor and manhood and filial piety run amuck, to say nothing about illegal immigration and its ongoing resonance more than half a century later—remains strongly in tact. (Dennis Polkow)
At Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL 60660, (773)RAV-PLAY. This production is now closed.