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Scarlett Johansson in 'A View From the Bridge' on Broadway: What did the critics think?

January 25, 2010 |  7:12 am

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All eyes on Broadway this week are focused on the Cort Theatre, where a revival of Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge," starring Scarlett Johansson, opened Sunday.

Johansson, who is making her Broadway debut, performs alongside Tony winner Liev Schreiber and Jessica Hecht in the 1955 drama about a working-class Brooklyn family torn apart by lust and revenge. The production, directed by Gregory Mosher, also stars Corey Stoll, Morgan Spector, Michael Cristofer and Joe Ricci.

Schreiber plays Eddie Carbone, a longshoreman who lives with his wife, Beatrice (Hecht), and his 17-year-old niece, Catherine (Johansson), whom he has raised since she was a child. Eddie's paternal relationship with his niece is transformed into something more sexual with the arrival of Beatrice's cousin from Italy, who forms a bond with the young woman. 

The casting of Johansson has provoked the usual skepticism among New York theatergoers, who seem to take special pleasure in watching Hollywood movie stars crash and burn on the stage.

But the reviews for "A View From the Bridge" suggest that Johansson may be having the last laugh.

Ben Brantley of the New York Times praised Johansson's performance, writing that the actress "melts into her character so thoroughly that her nimbus of celebrity disappears. Her Catherine is a girl on the cusp of womanhood, feeling her way down familiar paths that have suddenly been shrouded in unfamiliar shadows." The critic also praised Schreiber and Hecht and added that the entire cast acts with "naturalistic refinement."

USA Today's Elysa Gardner called Johansson "revelatory," adding that the actress "disappears so completely into the role of Catherine ... that you won't stop to consider the qualities that make her distinctly suited to the part. Only afterward will you likely realize the actress's youthful sensuality and capacity for good-natured goofiness constitute a perfect fit for this sheltered 17-year-old."

John Simon of Bloomberg wrote that Johansson "makes an assured and quite convincing stage debut." But he added that Miller's play "fails to deliver" and that the "vicissitudes of the common man as portrayed by him remain at best merely dramatic, at worst melodramatic." As a result, both Johansson and Schreiber "labor laudably in a lost cause."

Roma Torre of NY1 said that the production's "creative synergy is exceptional -- the technical designs and performances all in absolute sync. This is a subtle, brooding production that builds in emotional power and by the end, even the melodramatic conclusion has us sucked in."

The Washington Post's Peter Marks called the production "one of the most satisfying evenings of Miller in memory." He added: "The surprising achievement belongs to Johansson, who proves to be capable of far more than collaborating in eyebrow-raising star casting."

-- David Ng

Photo: Scarlett Johansson and Liev Schreiber in "A View From the Bridge" on Broadway. Credit: Joan Marcus

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