SSCT delivers ambitious Miller classic

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Salt Spring Community Theatre has taken a leap this season by attempting the demanding fare in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, and have met that challenge with impressive results under director Damian Inwood.

The story of a working class Italian-American family in 1950s Brooklyn whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of illegal immigrant cousins is full of drama, emotion and heavy themes. While it would be easy for an amateur production to get lost in superficial expression, the cast dives down deep to really inhabit the characters while on the stage, as the weekend’s opening run at Mahon Hall proved.

The play opens on the poor but basically happy apartment where longshoreman Eddie Carbone, played by Dave French, is king of his home. This is recognized by his wife Beatrice and her nearly adult niece Catherine, who is hungry for a larger sphere of movement. When Beatrice’s cousins arrive from Italy to find work, Rudolpho’s attentions to Catherine and their hasty plans to marry create a simmering rage in Eddie, who transfers his own suppressed feelings into worry the flamboyant Rudolpho “ain’t right” and is only after a route to citizenship.

The clash between Marco and Eddie as they attempt to protect their families is indicative of the old world culture — but their stubborn refusal to cede to each other, as Squizzato suggested in Saturday’s talk-back session, also demonstrates a toxic masculinity that is very much a contemporary problem.

The bad legacy of that type of masculinity and the way both men and women are harmed by it is just one of the aspects of A View From the Bridge that makes it feel relevant today. The problem of outsiders trying to enter our more comfortable culture, whether by legal means or not, is also very au courant.

Topical themes don’t give the play its emotional heft, however. That is really only provided by the actors and director committing to pulling the truth of the written text out for the audience to experience. Salt Spring Community Theatre has done a remarkable job with that task.

The plays continues at Mahon Hall with shows at 7:30 p.m. from this Wednesday, Nov. 7 through Saturday, Nov. 10.

For more on this story, see the Nov. 7, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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