Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 23, 1976 when Archbishop Henry J. O'Brien passed away.
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viewbridge132rScarlett Johansson, left, and Liev Schreiber (Photo by Joan Marcus, 2010)

NEW YORK – A new production of Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge,” buoyed by the Hollywood wattage of Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson, smartly directed by Gregory Mosher and supported by a strong ensemble of fellow players, gets a good deal of theatrical power out of Miller’s play. It is at the Cort Theatre on West 48th Street.

When Mr. Miller set out to write “A View from the Bridge,” he had grand expectations for the play, which he wrote in verse as a one-act modernization of a classic Greek tragedy. Paired with “A Memory of Two Mondays,” it opened on Broadway in 1955, ran 149 performances and was not deemed a success.

A year later, for a London production, Mr. Miller rewrote it into two acts, dropped the verse, expanded the women’s roles and turned Eddie Carbone into an everyman. This new version of the play became a success, and is the version that has been played, published and filmed.

As a tragedy, the play never really worked; as a melodrama it is on more solid ground.

Eddie Carbone (Mr. Schreiber) is more of an everyman than a hero’s representative of mankind. He strikes me as a bewildered fellow of big muscle and strong mind who can’t understand that his niece (Ms. Johansson), whom he raised from childhood with his wife, Beatrice (Jessica Hecht), is now a woman, and that he must let her go and allow her to marry another man in an honorable marriage.

Mr. Mosher has gotten all the emotional strength of the play on stage, as well as its simplicity and immediacy, and has ably coached his actors to play in that manner.

As Eddie, the frustrated Brooklyn dock worker, Mr. Schreiber follows the pattern set out by his director, giving a performance of turbulent and increasing, seething strength. His Eddie is hard-headed, a man who lives as the impulse moves him. When he looks at the 18-year-old Katherine, he is torn to pieces by thoughts of her marrying Rodolpho (Morgan Spector) and leaving his household. He is fierce in his sudden anger, violent when crossed and incapable of brokering a truce for fear of losing. He must roar and holler and have his way.

In the final scenes, when he is drawn into madness by his niece’s love for her fiancé, Mr. Schreiber’s Eddie is brilliant in his raging passion; when he has betrayed the young man, he becomes the tragic figure that Mr. Miller intended. In that last scene, which takes place on a Brooklyn street, Eddie fights for his good name with a touch of dignity and something that approaches heroism. Here Eddie, as played by Mr. Schreiber, is memorable.

Although her Brooklyn accent is all over the map, Scarlett Johansson gives a simple, direct performance in her Broadway debut as Eddie’s niece. Ms. Hecht, who seems to make a specialty out of playing beleaguered women, is touching as Beatrice; as Katherine’s immigrant beau Rodolpho, Mr. Spector is properly boyish, while Cory Stoll is quietly imposing as the young man’s older brother. Michael Cristofer is strong as the lawyer Alfieri, Miller’s one-man Greek chorus, who tries to talk some sense into Eddie. All contribute to making this an impressive production of Miller’s vintage play.

Bernard Carragher lives in New York and covers the arts and entertainment.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.