A View from the Bridge

September 17, 2008

With the new I-35W bridge opening Thursday morning, it was somewhat fitting that I stopped a few blocks away from it Tuesday night to take in a showing of “A View from the Bridge” at the Guthrie Theatre. And since it says at the top of this blog “sports AND entertainment,” I figured I’d drop a quick plug for what was an AWESOME show.

The lead role of Eddie Carbone was played by John Carroll Lynch, who you may know from such movies as Zodiac, Gothika, Fargo, or as Mimi’s love interest in The Drew Carey Show. I’ll be honest, when I found out at intermission it actually was him and not just a look-alike, it took me about 10 minutes into the second act before I could view him as his character in the play. However, he did an excellent job and stood out in a cast of high-quality performers. His bald head, arrogant attitude and believable accent was more than a little reminiscent of Tony Soprano.

The only gripe I had about the show was Bryce Pinkham’s accent, particularly at the start of Act 2. The Yale School of Drama grad was stellar overall in his role as Rodolpho — cousin of Carbone’s wife Beatrice (played by Amy Van Nostrand) and love interest to Carbone’s niece, Catherine (played by Robyn Rikoon). However, at the start of the second act I noticed his Italian accent slip into a Hindu accent on multiple occasions, but only for a few seconds at a time. It was a minor hiccup that likely went unnoticed, but I tend to pay special attention to Italian accents given my surname. He was strong enough elsewhere, though, that it was easily forgivable for a theatre novice like myself.

I was impressed at the cast’s ability to hold the audience in the first act despite what could have been excruciatingly long scenes. There was some strong foreshadowing in the early moments of the show before Beatrice made her first appearance, and Marco (Rodolpho’s brother, played by Ron Menzel) dropped a big hint with his chair performance to close out the act.

As strong as the first act was, the second was even better. Perhaps it was just the increased intensity of the scenes, but it seemed that the acting took a step up in Act 2. There was a good 20-minute stretch where I was so mesmerized by the show that I no longer felt like I was at a play, I was just observing someone else’s life. I snapped out of it and had to shake my head and close my eyes to snap back to reality. It was actually pretty cool and something I had not experienced at a show before. Then again, the Guthrie’s intimate Wurtele Thrust Stage puts you so close to the action it likely makes it easier to become one with the show rather than just a simple observer.

As previously stated, I’m a novice when it comes to theatre so I’m not going to try to rate this show in any way. However, I was thoroughly entertained — moreso than any non-musical play I’ve ever been to — and would recommend it to anyone who might be remotely interested in checking out a live show. The story is solid, the acting is great, and for those in Minneapolis, the Wurtele Thrust Stage provides a perfect backdrop to both.