Updated: Mar 18, 2019
★★★★☆ - Delicious
It’s amazing that some American Classics are so relevant this many years later. Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge,” now playing on the mainstage at Las vegas Little Theater, is so timely that it may have well been written in the last year, despite being set in 1955.
Under the direction of Walter Niejadlik, the play brings yesterday’s struggles into the new century. Though, in the days Miller covers it was done by greasing palms. The same issue was at the forefront: Immigrants.
Miming action (and subsequent reaction) during an opening monologue, then suddenly delivering reality between lines works against the suspension of disbelief. But, the large cast (fourteen) plays like an ensemble, though some are simple walk-on roles amid five major characters. Granted, certain small scenes could have been cut without feeling anything might be missing. And, for purists, if you’re going to do a classic, do the whole thing or don’t do it at all.
Gillen Brey turns in a very nice performance as Beatrice, the put-upon wife who actually rules the roost. Opposite Glenn Heath (Eddie), as the banter turns to heated sparring, Brey’s transition is slow and steady. The nicest thing is that she manages to evoke the love for her husband through it all.
As for Heath, his Eddie is yet another tour de force performance. Heath does what an actor should do; he becomes the character from dermis to marrow. To watch Eddie go from affable and supportive, to fiercely protective, to realizing he’s made a very grave mistake is something to behold. Heath embodies a character so completely you don’t recognize the man behind the costume. It’s only within the tenor of his voice you realize it’s him on the stage.
Couple those performances with Anastasia Koulich, who does a lovely turn as Catherine, Eddie and Beatrice’s ward. The delight she portrays in doting over her uncle feels real and right, the sincerity she brings to her interactions with Beatrice proves the mettle of this young actress.
As Catherine falls more deeply in love with Rodolpho, played by Michael Blair, we get to the crux of citizenry status. Blair brings an earnestness underlying the affable immigrant. He’s never afraid to show us what is roiling beneath the words. His scenes with Heath are intense and so based in reality that, in the end, we root for Rodolpho as much as Eddie does.
Though his opening scene was a little rough with unmotivated blocking, Alex Bassett’s Marco, Rodolpho’s brother, is another steady performance. As the story unfolds, Bassett shares the truth on his shirtsleeves, and it fits the character like a tailored garment.
Alfieri acts as narrator, interjecting short monologues which set the scenes. Gene Vitale downplays the role so much it makes him seem a disinterested party. It lacks pathos and stalls the flow. When he interacts with Eddie, Vitale keeps the pacing but doesn’t bring underlying truth to the words.
Yale Yeandel’s Brooklyn apartment is well designed and dressed, and is backed by a beautiful drop of the Brooklyn Bridge. He incorporates the street in front of the building and Alfieri’s office, melding the pieces seamlessly. Ginny Adams adds atmosphere by lighting that gives us night scenes with a gorgeous full moon over the bridge. Toss in the appropriate, barely-there background sounds by Mike Olsen, and you get top-notch production values.
Flaws in the production aren’t enough to take away much from the overall enjoyment because excellent production values and stunning performances bring everything back into focus.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday - Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday through March 25
2 p.m. Saturday, March 17
Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff drive
Tickets: $21 - $24 (702-362-7996; www.lvlt.org)
Producer: Las Vegas Little Theatre; Director: Walter Niejadlik; Assistant Director: April Sauline; Set Design: Yale Yeandel; Lighting Design: Ginny Adams; Sound Design: Mike Olsen; Costume Design: Rose Scarborough; Stage Manager: Chris Davies