Venue: Edge Theater, 9797 W. Colfax, Denver, CO
Company: The Edge Theater Company
Overheard leaving the theater after the Mother’s Day performance of “A View from the Bridge:”
“You know, sometimes these small theaters put on a better show than the big, expensive shows downtown.”
I agree completely. And the Edge Theater’s production of “A View from the Bridge” is Exhibit A in support of that statement.
The story, in a nutshell, involves a large influx of immigrants coming to America in search of work and a better life. Some of the immigrants are legal, others illegal. Families hide illegal relatives to protect them from Immigration. If you think this sounds like contemporary Arizona and Mexican immigrants, you’d be right, but mistaken. It’s the 1950’s, and the location is Brooklyn, New York. And the immigrants are not Mexican; they’re Italian.
The plot involves a complicated family crisis, triggered by Beatrice (Carol Bloom) when she invites her cousins to live with them when they enter America illegally. Her husband, Eddie Carbone (played by Rick Yaconis) is incensed when his niece Catherine (Rebecca Morphis) falls in love with Rudolpho (played by Stephen Siebert), one of the live-in illegal immigrants. The harder Eddie tries to break up the young couple, the more volatile (and violent) the conflict becomes.
This production is performed in the round. In such a small venue (less than 70 seats total), the effect is striking. You are not watching the show; you are in the middle of it. You cannot help but be engaged by actors who are sometimes merely a foot away from your face. The action is natural, not blocked to present an artificial, front facing delivery.
There is not a weak spot anywhere in the cast; the performances are all top notch. That said, though, Rebecca Morphis stands out in a cast of very capable performers. In such close quarters, everyone in the theater can see fear in Morphis’ eyes, see her lips quiver, see the real tears falling from her eyes. Rather than portray her character, she becomes Catherine. Her emotion is real, and every look, every gesture, every line is convincing. Watching her at such a close range will make you realize that the cheap seats in a big venue are not a bargain.
Stephen Siebert’s performance is also very engaging. As the young Italian immigrant who falls in love with Catherine, he has all the qualities that would attract a girl like her. He’s convincing as both the sexy guy who wins over Catherine, and as the effeminate peacock who repulses Eddie Carbone. Seeing Siebert portray both personas is a joy to watch. And his brief a cappella performance of “Paper Doll” in the first act is not to be missed.
The costumes and set are simple and functional. The Italian accents are convincing. The fight choreography in the second act is realistic. All the technical parts work seamlessly with the actors to create a compelling performance.
“A View from a Bridge” is a timely reminder to all of us that immigration problems are not new, nor are they given to oversimplification. “What part of illegal do you not understand” is a bumper sticker position that ignores the complex reality of immigration. Arthur Miller knew it was a complex issue 50 some years ago. And it still is today.
When one says that sometimes the small theater venues in Denver are better than some of the large ones, they may well be talking about The Edge Theater. They are consistently producing and performing at a very high level. I recommend “A View from the Bridge” to everyone who enjoys live theater done right.
NOTE: This is not really a family show; the themes are definitely mature. Despite that disclaimer, there’s no nudity, no sex, and no profanity. So the kids may not be interested anyway.
This show runs through June 3, 2012.
Director: Angela Astle
Rick Yaconis (Eddie Carbone)
Carol Bloom (Beatrice Carbone)
Rebecca Morphis (Catherine)
Stephen Siebert (Rudolpho)
Ryan Goold (Marco)
Verl Hite (Mr. Alfieri)