“A View From the Bridge” at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Smoldering with sexuality, tense with jealousy and anger, poignant with hope and innocent love, “A View From the Bridge” is not easily forgotten. Arthur Miller was master at delineating the moral dilemmas of modern man, and this production, directed by Braden Abraham, gets just about everything right.

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(L-R) Kirsten Potter, Amy Danneker, Brandon O’Neill, Frank Boyd, Mark Zeisler in A View from the Bridge(2015). Photo: Alabastro Photography

At its center is burly longshoreman Eddie Carbone played with consummate skill by Mark Zeisler. Hardworking Eddie considers himself a good man. He pays the bills, cares for his wife, and with her has raised the orphaned Catherine, the nubile niece who is blossoming into lovely womanhood.

Yes Eddie has some sexual inadequacies, and yes he has more than avuncular feeling for his niece, but he is a good man, so good he’s agreed to let two illegal Italian immigrants live in his house. It’s the 1950s. The Italian economy is in disarray. The two young men are desperate for work. One needs the money for his wife and children back in Italy. The other just wants a better life.

Good intentions are never enough in Miller’s world. The theatre crackles with quashed emotion. It sizzles with sexuality, and it steamrolls toward disaster. All the while playing out in Miller’s glorious language spoken by masters.

The set nicely recreates a 1950s working class living room along the docks in Red Hook. And it seeks to establish locale with a backdrop that suggests the cables of the Brooklyn Bridge. That’s effective too, but somehow, the two don’t work together as gracefully as one would hope. But that’s a minor gripe.

The acting is spellbinding. In addition to Mark Zeisler, there’s Amy Donneker as Catherine, a girl on the cusp of womanhood, naive, looking for romance, thrilled that the world is opening up to her. Kirsten Potter as Eddie’s wife, Bea, never had high expectations, and so she accepts what life has handed her, its disappointments and all. The two illegals, played by Frank Boyd and Brandon O’Neill offer contrasting performances delineating two quite separate personalities, each one meticulously developed.

Miller forces us to ask what determines one’s success or failure? Is it the demons that reside within us? Is it the circumstances that limit or expand our lives? Miller is brilliant at providing good theatre that encourages his audience to consider some of life’s larger questions.

Seattle Rep is betting big on great productions to revitalize their finances. This is an excellent start.

Through Oct. 18, Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St. Seattle, (206 443-2222 or www.seattlerep.org).

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