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The first scene begins with a fight. Obviously this introduction is indicative of some kind of intense emotion to follow. An aura of passionate emotions continues to surface throughout the play. The mood is set immediately. The audience knows that whatever is to come will be fiery and fervent. Ironically, the opening scene is the climax itself. By using this structure, the author gets right to the point that Eddie Carbone is a self-destructive character without restraint or self-control. His peers, the longshoremen, try to discourage him from fighting, but none approach him physically. By keeping a safe distance, they yield to his unbridled temper. Eddie is not a man who spends a lot of time with self-reflection. He is a intransigent character that contrasts well against the other characters’ flexibility and compliance. He encompasses the typical stubborn (and somewhat self-righteous ) facet of the entire human race. All people interpret society and community through their own subjective eyes; therefore, filtering out the parts and people that do not fit their idea of the norm. Eddie is the common man, not the self-made man or even the desperate fledgling. He is a typical lower-middle class citizen just calling it like he sees it. Unfortunately, he only accepts what he wants to, instead of what could benefit him the most: an open mind.
Brooklyn during the 1950’s was a conglomerate of blue and white collar workers. The social strata are represented by Alfieri (white-collar) and Eddie (blue-collar.) Their costumes are authentic and detailed. Alfieri enters wearing a three-piece suit, typical of attorneys. He reveals his gold pocket watch and tips his classy fedora. He is an intelligent man who earns the trust of the audience with his debonair attire. His observations are objective and honest when he tells Eddie he has “too much love for the niece.” He is the embodiment of justice and reason. Eddie, on the other hand, exemplifies the part of an uneducated (and perhaps reckless) blue-collar worker. His pants are stained from a hard days work. His shirt is wrinkled and torn. Judging by his apparel, he does not intend to impress anyone with his intelligence. He looks every bit the part of a streetwise guy, who settles issues by his own rules or with the knife on his belt. Immigrants were mostly blue-collar workers, as well. Marco and Rudolpho wore jackets apparently torn en route to the United States. These jackets convey their determination and endurance to reach the land of milk and honey. Their costumes also illustrate the desolate conditions from which they came. These costumes, although subtle, played a key role in non-verbal communication with the audience.
The acoustics set the mood in may parts of the play. For instance, when Eddie and Marco try to lift the chair, the rigid sounds suggest the level of tension between the two. Aside from background sounds and music, tone and volume entails what is behind Eddie’s dubious comments. When Eddie teaches Rudolpho to box, he presents himself in a seemingly harmless and playful manner. However, when Catherine comforts Rudolpho after Eddie punches him, Eddie raises his voice, although he pretends it was accidental. By raising his voice, Eddie inadvertently shows his insincerity. Marco, who is soft-spoken until this scene, hurries his words in a deeper tone while challenging Eddie to lift a chair. Everybody realizes the frustration of Marco through his restrained voice. He doesn’t want to see his little brother hurt. At the same time, he doesn’t want to risk deportation by angering Eddie. The sound was pivotal because it, too, communicated with the audience.
The scenes are situational and domestic. Therefore, the actors must be realistic, ordinary, nonchalant, relaxed, casual, etc. However, when explosive and unexpected events take place the actors must adapt to the morphing chain of events. For example, Eddie kisses his niece in the mouth. And then he kisses Rudolpho! Actors must act equally surprised each time they perform a scene like that. Eddie becomes irate within a matter of seconds when Rudolpho simply describes sardines and lemons in Italy. Night after night a novice actor may become somewhat desensitized by the repetition. However, the performance I saw was fresh and stimulating. They made a smooth transition from casual lines to energetic lines. In other words, an array of emotions were executed purposefully and distinctly. They were convincing actors, (especially their accents.) That’s the core of the connection to the audience: sincerity and credibility.
I sincerely enjoyed this play. It is a tight play. It has a definitive purpose and thesis. All the parts fit together in deliberate chain of rationale. Nothing is extraneous. All the actors contributed, none outshining the others. Every word and action added to the “chain.“ I don’t have any negative criticism for this performance. All factors were appropriate and effective. The theme of the play was presented flawlessly. Every person in the theater understood the theme: Eddie Carbone went down in flames as a result of his rigidity and narrow-mindedness. Instead of changing his ways to accommodate the ones he loved, he demanded that they conform to his way of thinking. As a result, he lost the respect of his friends, family and neighbors (and ultimately, his life.) Eddie is symbolic of every person in America who must learn to be receptive to people and norms different from their own. Eddie could have spared his own life had he simply changed his mind about Rudolpho. One might say it is easier to see the world relative to ourselves instead of how it truly is. The big message looming over head is to accept the things we can not change. However, people can change their entire life simply by changing their mind.