Thrilling performances in Arthur Miller’s ‘View From the Bridge’ by UpStage Artists

Veteran director John Cusamano leaves Maryland with a triumph.

Arthur Miller’s classic play A View From the Bridge, ostensibly a story of Italian immigrants living in 1950s Brooklyn, is often described as a Greek tragedy wrapped up in the story of an American love triangle. With thrilling performances and spot-on direction, the UpStage Artists troupe exceeds all expectations in this drama. This is veteran actor, director, and teacher John Cusamano’s last work in Maryland before he relocates to Pennsylvania, and he leaves with a triumph.

A View From the Bridge centers around the troubled character of Eddie Carbone, a married longshoreman whose overwhelming lust for his niece leads to his downfall. The play, which premiered on Broadway in 1955 (a film version came out in 1962), focuses on family loyalty, taboo love, illegal immigration, domination, and unwritten rules.

Bill Bodie, Vedant Sharma, Nicholas Friend, and Rose Coates in ‘A View From the Bridge.’ Photo by Rick Bergmann.

The story is experienced largely through the character of Eddie Carbone played in UpStage’s production by Bill Bodie. A native of Queens, New York, Bodie has performed in over 15 productions with DC-area community theaters since 2015. Playing a Brooklyn dock worker seemed natural to him, and he added great depth and emotion to the character of Eddie. A View From the Bridge only works when the character of Eddie is played by a strong actor. Bodie provides that strength and more.

Director Cusamano and Bodie bring brilliance to Eddie’s unraveling and create a production that is a clever probe into mental illness. We observe Eddie’s infatuation with Katherine, played by Anna Fitzmaurice. As he tries to control her, not wanting her to have a job, fall in love, or get married, he slowly loses control, bringing his entire family down with him.

Aparna Sri plays pier attorney Alfieri, who serves as the play’s narrator. In this role, she seamlessly moves the pace of the play. Rose Coates plays Eddie’s wife, Beatrice, in a competent acting debut.

Rounding out the cast were Vedant Sharma and Nicholas Friend as Marco and Rodolpho, the two cousins who come to Brooklyn with Eddie’s assistance, and then further contribute to his downfall. Marco says very little, but Sharma gives him a strong stage presence as a dock worker with an excellent work ethic. Sharma was especially memorable in a scene of confrontation with Eddie in which he challenges Eddie to pick up a chair with one hand making a masculine cultural point.

Nicholas Friend did not play Rodolfo in the effeminate way this role is frequently cast. Instead, he acted as a younger brother enjoying a fresh new adventure. He sang and laughed at work in contrast to most longshoremen. Both Sharma and Friend deserve kudos for bringing strength to their roles.

Clockwise from top left: Anna Fitzmaurice and Nicholas Friend; Bill Bodie and Aparna Sri; Rose Coates, Anna Fitzmaurice, and Bill Bodie in ‘A View From the Bridge.’ Photos by Rick Bergmann.

The set is very simple with black curtains and two white doors suggesting a bedroom and front door. A small dinner table with three chairs, an overstuffed chair, and a coat hanger complete the room. One side of the stage is used for narration and designed to look like a law office.

Upstage Artists’ production contains all the elements of Arthur Miller’s American classic. Kudos to all involved.

Running time: One hour and 58 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.

A View From the Bridge plays June 3, 9, and 10, 2023, at 7:30 pm and June 4 and 11 at 2 pm presented by UpStage Artists performing at Emmanuel United Methodist Church, 11416 Cedar Lane Beltsville, MD. Tickets are $10 at the door or online.

The program for A View From the Bridge is online here.


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