In some ways, Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge” is more conventional than other Miller works.
“Death of a Salesman” and “All My Sons” dealt with the tragic underbelly of the American dream. “The Crucible” used the setting of the Salem Witch Trials to decry the McCarthy hearings.
Those plays ground obvious axes to a razor’s edge. First produced in the mid-1950s, “Bridge” is not as thematically obvious. However, in its current production at Pacific Resident Theatre, Miller’s durable drama retains the power to devastate.
The play’s protagonist, Eddie Carbone (Vince Melocchi), is an Italian American longshoreman who lives in a clean but shabby Brooklyn apartment, well-realized in Staci Walters and Jeffery P. Eisenmann’s set design, with his wife, Beatrice (Melissa Weber Bales) and their orphaned niece, Catherine (Lisa Cirincione).
Eddie’s avuncular interest in Catherine has gradually grown into incestuous obsession, an unwholesome interest he refuses to acknowledge, even to himself. When the Carbones take in Beatrice’s immigrant cousins, Marco (Satiar Pourvasei) and Rodolpho (Jeff Lorch), Rodolpho and Catherine fall in love -- a development that the increasingly possessive Eddie cannot tolerate.
Meanwhile the narrator of the piece, local attorney Alfieri (Robert Lesser), sadly recounts the disaster he was helpless to prevent.
It's no wonder that the play has been adapted into opera form at least twice. Although modest in circumstance, its characters have epic emotions that are operatic in scale, while Eddie’s complicity in his own demise has all the elements of Greek tragedy.
The miracle of Miller is that his characters are so eloquently inarticulate. Co-directors Marilyn Fox and Dana Jackson get the blend of working class and Italian dialects just right -- the first but necessary step in their wrenchingly truthful staging that, while larger-than-life, never lapses into overstatement.
As for the actors, from Melocchi’s towering Eddie right down to the non-speaking bystanders, you simply won’t see any better.
“A View from the Bridge,” Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. $20-$28. (310) 822-8392. www.pacificresidenttheatre.com. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.