When Liev Schreiber's fingers ever so tenderly brush the cheek of Scarlett Johansson early on in the crackling revival of "A View From the Bridge," you pick up the gentlest hints of a gathering disturbance, one that is sure to shatter both a Brooklyn home and a Broadway audience.
Schreiber is Eddie Carbone, a longshoreman of blunt sentences and unsettled needs. Johansson plays his 17-year-old niece, Catherine, a fetching outer-borough girl living with Eddie and wife Beatrice (Jessica Hecht), in seeming obliviousness to the carnal hold she has on Eddie. In the remarkable interplay of these three superbly cast actors, director Gregory Mosher unfolds the gripping core of Arthur Miller's sleek modern tragedy, a piece that stands up to the fiercest dramas that this playwright ever conjured.
Surely the production, which had its official opening Sunday night at the Cort Theatre, is one of the most satisfying evenings of Miller in memory. Washington audiences will recall Mosher's sensitive guidance of Sally Field and company in the Kennedy Center's July 2004 revival of Tennessee Williams's "The Glass Menagerie." In similar fashion, Mosher's "Bridge" expertly unspools the discord engendered in a family by a head of household lacking the gift of self-knowledge.