Eddie Carbone (Armando Duran, right) resists the pleas of Rodolpho (Juan Rivera LeBron, left), Beatrice (Vilma Silva) and Catherine (Stephanie Beatriz, right) to let the two young people marry each other in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production of 'A View From the Bridge.' - Craig Schwartz

'A View From the Bridge'

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's final play of the 2008 season, Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge," will open Friday, July 25, in the OSF's Angus Bowmer Theatre in Ashland.

Former OSF Artistic Director Libby Appel has returned to the festival to direct.

The play is the story of Eddie Carbone, a hard-working longshoreman in a crowded Brooklyn neighborhood who opens his home to his wife's Sicilian cousins. Eddie and his family — his wife, Beatrice, and his niece, Catherine — don't have much. But it's not uncommon in the neighborhood to harbor illegal immigrants if they're family. So when Beatrice's cousins and Rodolpho arrive from Italy, they are welcomed into Eddie's already cramped apartment.

Rodolpho is not Eddie's idea of what a man should be. Making matters worse is the attraction between Rodolpho and Catherine. Eddie figures Rodolpho is "playing" Catherine and wants to marry her to gain American citizenship.

Eddie asks Alfieri, the neighborhood lawyer, if there is a way to stop Rodolpho. Alfieri advises him to leave it alone and to wish the two young people well. But Eddie can't leave it alone, and Alfieri foresees a tragedy.

Although "View" is a slice-of-life play, it examines deeper themes as well. Appel says it is based on the Greek myth of Phaedra, who falls in love with Hippolytus, her stepson. Catherine, who more or less corresponds to Hippolytus, is caught in the middle, as is Beatrice. Eddie makes bad choices, which lead to obsession, a common theme of Greek tragedy, and betrayal. Alfieri, the neighborhood lawyer, is a voice of reason analogous to a Greek chorus.

"One of the reasons I've always loved the play is because my mother was born under the Brooklyn Bridge in Williamsburg and my father came to this country when he was a small boy and lived on the East Side of Manhattan near the bridge," Appel said in a talk earlier this season. "This play conjures up the idea of the immigrants that settled our country at the beginning of the 20th century and into the middle of the century."

"A View From the Bridge" opened in 1955 and was expanded in 1956, the same year that former Miller collaborator Elia Kazan's film "On the Waterfront" came out.

"On the Waterfront" was widely seen as Kazan's justification for having "named names" to the Red-baiting House Un-American Activities Committee a couple years earlier. And "A View From the Bridge" has been seen as Miller's indictment of Kazan for betraying his friends.

Miller denied it, writing, "When I write a play about a political informer, he will be called a political informer."

And as Ashland writer Stephany Smith-Pearson points out in the OSF's "Illuminations," Eddie Carbone, unlike Elia Kazan, is not under social pressure to betray anybody.

Armando Duran is Eddie Carbone. Beatrice will be played by Vilma Silva. Stephanie Beatriz has been cast as Catherine, and Juan Rivera LeBron as Rodolpho.

William Bloodgood has returned as the play's scene designer. Costumes are by Deborah M. Dryden, lighting by Jane Cox and music by Irwin Appel.

"A View From the Bridge" will run through Nov. 1 in the Angus Bowmer Theatre.

Call 482-4331.

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