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A View From The Bridge is a play written by leading American playwright Arthur Miller. It is a play which covers moral issues and was written in the 1950s. It is based in Brooklyn, New York.
I came across this play when I studied it in English at school. I found it quite an interesting play and enjoyed reading it. I think that the characters are well defined and it is easy to understand who they each are and what they are about. In the play Arthur Miller pays extra attention to his stage directions, more so than most playwrights, and these set the scene so that the audience has a clear understanding of what is going on.
Arthur Miller was born on 17th October, 1915, in New York City. His parents were both immigrants to the United States, which is interesting to know as the issue of immigration is brought up in this play. Miller's family was prosperous due to the success of his father's clothing manufacturing business, but this collapsed following the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Miller had to work as a warehouseman in order to save for his college fees, and he was able to go to Michigan University in 1934 where he studied Economics and History.
Miller's first play, The Man Who Had All The Luck, was not so lucky for him as it was a failure when it was staged on Broadway in 1944. His first success was with All My Sons in 1947 and since then he went on to write more and became more successful. Many of Miller's plays examine the position of the individual in relation to their responsibilities and position in society and because of this may be seen as political. He has a reputation for dealing with moral issues in his plays.
Miller was married to his second wife, Marilyn Monroe in 1956 but they divorced in 1961. Miller died in 2005.
Below is the list of characters, as it appears in the book:
FIRST IMMIGRATION OFFICER
SECOND IMMIGRATION OFFICER
The main character in the play is Eddie. We learn at the beginning of the play as we read through it that he is seen as the father figure of his household, being the only man of the house, and that as a result he likes to be respected and have his own way. He lives with his wife, Beatrice, and their niece, Catherine. Eddie is definitely the dominant one out of the three of them.
Beatrice is a loving wife, devoted to her husband. She does as he wants her to most of the time, but she still has her say in things and she knows how to stand up to him. Catherine, their neice, is eighteen years old and she is just learning how to be a woman. In the first part of the play we learn that she and Beatrice have some exciting news for Eddie. They prepare to tell him the news by softening him up by giving him his evening meal and a drink first. This shows they know that Eddie will have the final say in the situation so because they want this it is important to them to get his approval.
Marco and Rodolfo are Beatrice's cousins, they are illegal immigrants coming over from Italy. Because it is illegal for them to be in the country the family has to be careful not to let anyone know they are staying with them. Marco is the oldest of the cousins. He is the stronger, more masculine of the two and he is protective over his younger brother, Rodolfo. Rodolfo is more of an outgoing, lively person and enjoys singing and making jokes. Some tension rises between Rodolfo and Eddie, and because of this between Marco and Eddie, for reasons which I will not reveal in this review.
Alfieri is the character we meet first. He is a lawyer, and takes up the role as narrator of the play. He is an outsider to the events that happen between the family, he is wise and level headed, calm and collected and he is able to speculate on the events without being biased. He says the truth rather than what he wants, unlike Eddie, and the contrast between both characters is useful for the audience to be able to make their own jugdements and see the truth of the story.
These are just the main characters that I have talked about here. There are more characters in the list but they aren't important enough to the story to be mentioned in this review.
The basic plot of the play is focused on Eddie's tragedy. Throughout the play the audience and readers can see that he will fall victim to his own characteristics, but there is nothing he can do about it. I don't want to give too much away about the plot as I think you would enjoy the play more if you didn't know the ending so I won't say too much, all I will say is that the family has to face a lot of heartache on all sides, and the ending is very tragic and personally I didn't expect it to be so dramatic.
*How Useful Is This Edition Of The Play?*
This edition of the play is from Heinemann publishers and was first published in 1995. It is a small, thin hardbook book. It contains notes, questions and activities to help in studying the play in class; it is particularly useful for studying at GCSE level which is what I used the book for.
I thought that this edition of the book contained a high degree of information and covered everything that I needed to know in order to understand the play. Before I picked up this book I had never heard of the play before, and after reading it I feel I have a good knowledge and understanding of what it is all about.
There is an introduction at the start of the book which provides background information on the author and on the social context of the play. It outlines the story, it discusses performance and it also examines the characters in detail. The introduction is just under seven pages long and is well detailed. I thought that it contained all the neccessary information that I needed to know as well as a bit of extra information to expand my knowledge on both the author and the play.
At the end of the book there is a section called 'Keeping Track' which has got straight forward questions in it, about what is going on in each act of the play. This helps improve the reader's understanding in greater detail.
This edition is perfect for you if you want to study the play in detail, and improve your understanding of the play to great extent. I should also mention that this edition of the play has the same page numbering as the Hereford edition, which means that the two editions can be easily used side by side.
Thanks for reading xo
Also posted on Ciao
I must admit that reading is not a frequent pass time of mine so when I do find a book that I don't want to put down I have very high regard of the book and its author. The reason I started reading the book is I basically wanted something to read before I went off to the land of nod as I find reading at night generally helps me get off to sleep. Finding this around the house was great and actually kept me up reading on many an occasion.
About the author
Arthur Miller is an award winning social playwright; his plays are acts of protest. At the time of this book immigration was a very taboo subject and immigrants were looked down on by society, you could argue not much has changed... Arthur Miller being a social playwright makes a conscious effort to challenge these views with 'A View from the Bridge'.
In the play we find the character Eddie Carbone. Playwright Arthur Miller tells the story of the New York longshoreman who allows his misguided feelings for his niece-in-law to destroy him. Eddie is an Italian-American who lives with his wife Beatrice and his orphaned niece-in-law Catherine. He is idolized and respected by his family and whole community but that all changes after his Sicilian cousins Marco and Rodolfo come to stay.
Eddie begins as an all round very likeable character and exhibits 'heroic' characteristics in his willingness to take in his immigrant cousins and because of this the audience is drawn to him. He becomes even more likeable when it is made apparent just how much he looked after Catherine. Though this likeability doesn't last for long. His eventual downfall is a direct result of his unwillingness to learn from his mistakes.
The book is a play and so when reading it you should bare in mind that it is supposed to be performed.
The issues the play explores are taboo but inevitably human because after all what is love. Set in New York, Brooklyn in a community of immigrants originating from Italy and Sicily the central theme of the play could be argued to be the 'Sicilian code of honour'. Understanding this is a must for understanding the actions of everyone in the play.
Without ruining the plot for you this play will no doubted leave you thinking and maybe even change your views (yeah its one of those). I like the way Arthur Miller gets his message across, i'm so used to big blockbuster movies or books nowadays tackling an issue or aspect of life with great vigour and placing a lot of emphasis on the subject matter, supposedly to get the story/message across. Though I find the situations presented are quite abstract and characters unrealistic. Arthur Miller has the ability to convey a story about real people without exaggeration for 'added effect' whilst getting his point across with painfully accurate realism, that you find very hard to just wave-off as a 'story'.
EDITION: Hard back
Outline of Plot
The play begins with Alfieri, a New York lawyer, talking to the audience about one of his past clients, Eddie Carbone. The majority of the story is told retrospectively, with Alfieri playing the part of narrator at critical moments.
We are then introduced to Eddie and the other members of his family: Beatrice, his wife; Catherine, his niece. The relationship between these three characters is at the heart of the play, and the complexities surface gradually as events unfold.
Eddie gives Beatrice news she has waited a long time to hear. Her cousins, Marco and Rodolfo, have been stowed away on a ship from Italy, and are due to arrive imminently. She is obviously excited but Eddie, very much an alpha male, does not like the thought of sharing his living space with two other men.
When the cousins arrive, they make an immediate impression. Marco, more grounded and reserved, has a wife and children in Italy. He has come to America for a few years to make enough money to support them in Italy. His brother, Rodolfo, is a flamboyant dreamer, unable to refrain from singing and with the success of stardom calling to him. Eddie is satisfied with Marco, but has concerns about Rodolfo. Catherine, on the other hand, is completely smitten with Rodolfo.
Catherine and Rodolfo grow closer, spending more and more time together. This frustrates Eddie, who is unable to express his feelings clearly. He seeks advice from Alfieri, who tells him the couple have not broken the law. Hearing they are planning to get married and with no other option, Eddie picks up the phone, dials the Immigration Department, and informs them of the whereabouts of two illegal immigrants...
Eddie Carbone - a longshoreman, loading and unloading the cargo of vessels docking in New York. He is seen to be 'one of the boys', as minor characters include him in their gambling and arrange to go bowling with him. His marriage to Beatrice has long since lost its spark. While he is friendly enough towards her, there does not appear to be a great deal of love. His relationship with Catherine fuels the tragic events of the play. He loves her as his neice, but on the cusp of adulthood his feelings grow increasingly confused, manifesting themselves as fiercely protective.
Beatrice Carbone - Eddie's wife. Has been looking forward to the arrival of her cousins for a long time, and is forced to watch as Eddie ruins their hopes for the future. As with Arthur Miller's other matriarchal figures (Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible, Linda Loman in The Death of a Salesman), she plays a largely supportive role, a sounding board for the frustrations of others. As with these other characters, she earns her moment as the character to be heard, and we sympathise with her situation.
Catherine - the niece of Eddie and Beatrice. She is keen to embrace the 'grown up world', and begins the play returning from a job interview. She is attracted to Rodolfo, perhaps because he is so different from the inhabitant of Red Hook. Certainly, she is drawn to the romanticism of rustic Italy as a marital home, to Rodolfo's consternation.
Rodolfo - Beatrice's cousin. He has stowed away on a ship from Italy and entered America illegally. He wants to work unloading cargo only long enough to pay his debt, before embracing the American Dream and seeking Hollywood-style fame. He is unashamed to stand out from the other men in the community, singing as he unloads cargo, while the other workers whisper behind his back.
Marco - Rodolfo's brother. Quiet and direct, he will only stay in America long enough to make money to support his family. At first he tries to fit in with Eddie, but cannot forgive his betrayal.
Alfieri - a lawyer. Distanced from the events of the play by virtue of his status, he has clearly struggled to understand Eddie Carbone. He has an admiration for this straight-forward man who wanted everything, but believes to be happy people must settle for half.
The play takes place in Redhook, New York, a working-class district, mainly Italian in heritage. As with Miller's other works, the events in the play mirror Miller's own life. Eddie's relationship with Beatrice and Catherine reflect Miller's waning first marriage and attraction to Marilyn Munroe.
Eddie himself is broadly the result of a falling out between Miller and his one-time friend, Elia Kazan. Miller staunchly refused to give up names during the hunt for communists following the Second World War. Kazan, on the other hand, did. Thus, Miller's character is ultimately 'taught a lesson' for betrayal, whereas a similar character in Kazan's film, 'On the Waterfront' is seen in a more heroic light.
Overall, the play is easy to read, with clear stage directions to help imagine the scenes. Obviously, it is better to see it performed, but the raw emotion is tangible even if you're just reading it.
What a boring title for a play, and mentioning that why would anyone want to spend their time reading a play? Well simply because this is fantastic. Miller is one of the great literary minds of our time and his works are profound and thought provoking. This is no exception. Personally I feel it is one of his greatest works and offers a great story with moral implications. Accessible to everyone this should not be missed, trust me! This is coming from someone who is not a great lover of reading. Background… A view for the bridge deals with the ‘American Dream’; this is that immigrants came from countries, such as Italy, in order to make a better life for themselves. Miller was concerned with this living through the Depression, which bankrupted his father, and he saw the effects on the ordinary people. The play can be described as a Greek tragedy set in America. The play is set in the 1950’s and so reflects the attitudes and feelings of the time, this is why it may be a little difficult for a modern day audience to relate to. We all know that America was seen as the land of opportunity for many people, be it to start a new life, escape their past or just for a change people believed America held he key. However this was not the case, as immigrants often lived in the most run down parts of town and found themselves out of work and with little money to live on or send to their families at home. Characters… There are 6 main characters in this play, although there are others, they only add to the community and contribute very little to the play. Each character is very different and has a strong personality, which comes through via their words and actions. - Eddie… Eddie is a simple man, he is an Italian living in America, and he works on the docks to support his family. He has a lot of love for his family, but there are tensions between him and his wife. He is a proud man also and we
get a sense that he has no control over his fate. Eddie can be seen as a representation of all men, in the sense that we all have different feelings and urges that whilst privately are ok are not accepted in society, or are frowned upon, not that I am saying we all feel a little incest but you get the drift. - Alfieri… This is the narrator of the play, yet he also has a role as the lawyer to the family. He provides what can essentially be termed as the view from the bridge, that is the outside view. He has one of the most important role on the play in my view as he brings everything together and helps us understand what is going on. He is not emotional attached with the events and so offers an unbiased recollection of the happenings of the small Italian family. - Catherine… The young nice of Eddie, whom he and his wife treat like a daughter. She is only a young lass, aged 17, and has been kept wrapped up in cotton wool by Eddie. She is striving to live her own life, as Eddie is a little too protective of her. We sense that she has strong feelings towards Eddie and is flirtatious with him. - Beatrice… The long-suffering wife of Eddie, who is not as dim as we may first think. She knows what is going on between her husband and Catherine, yet loyalty prevents her from acting upon it. She is very wise and an extremely likeable character, who we can’t help but feel a little sorry for. - Rodolpho… Beatrice’s young cousin who has come to America in search of the dream, to get money and he wants to own a motorbike. He is blonde and very flamboyant. He likes to sing and dance and is something of an entertainer. - Marco… Rodolpho’s brother and the quieter and older of the two. He has a family at home in Italy and wants to make as mush money as possible to support them. A strong man with a deep sense of family loyalty and look after his brother. N.B. Both Marco and Rodolpho are in America illegally. The story… The play is about Eddie, an Italian immigrant and longshoreman living in Brooklyn (hence the bridge thing). Eddie lives with his wife and nice, and the play starts with them waiting the arrival of Beatrice’s two cousins, Marco and Rodolpho. They are illegal immigrants looking for work in order to fund their families at home in Italy. Rodolpho and Catherine seem to like each other, which upset’s Eddie, as he as a somewhat unhealthily set of feelings for his young niece. This ultimately leads to the downfall of Eddie. That’s the story in a nutshell, simple really, but for those who want to know more I will give and ‘episode’ by ‘episode’ account. The book is split into two acts and 10 episodes, which I suppose are just like mini chapters if we were not dealing with a play. NOTE this will gave away a little of the play, and me being me probably be a bit in depth and too long for this time of day so skip if you don't want most of the story to unfold on dooyoo... - Act 1. Episode 1… We are introduced to Eddie and his family, that being his wife and nice. They are happy enough family although there is an underlining feeling that there is more between Eddie and Catherine than just a father type of relationship. Eddie comes across as a little too protective and there seems to be some unhealthy feelings between the two, if you can’t guess what I mean a little bit of sexual tension. There are also signs of a bit of tension between the husband and wife. Catherine wants to take a job as a secretary, but Eddie is unsure, he wants to keep her as his little girl and sees this as a sign she is growing up. Beatrice and Catherine attempt to persuade Eddie to allow her to take the job by buttering him up, for example Catherine gives him a cigar and also lights it for him. Beatr
ice then explains that her two cousins are coming to stay for a wile, as they need a job to earn money. However Eddie is suspicious, I suppose it’s a territory thing, not wanting two males to invade the place where he is the dominant figure and has two woman at his beckon call. Note Eddie’s tale about Vinny Bolzano as well, this is, in reflection a reference to Eddies own fate. Episode 2… Here we see the arrival of Beatrice’s cousins, Marco and Rodolpho. We get very strong character descriptions and are enlightened into their characters. This is done by their differences in what they talk about etc. Marco is fairly quite and talks of the poverty and problems at home, Rodolpho on the over hand is much more lively an energetic. He tells the family his tales of singing and dancing, which show his exhibitionist behaviour. There is an instant attraction between Rodolpho and Catherine, which Eddie picks up on, and doesn’t like at all. Eddie seems to ignore Rodolpho and simply prefers to talk to Marco, this is a sign that there is an automatic tension between him and Rodolpho. Episode 3… Well we now see the extent of the martial problems between Beatrice and Eddie. The two are fighting, and the subject – Rodolpho. Eddie is quick to attack him and relentless, picking at every little thing he can. We realise just how deep seated the problems between the two are when Beatrice asks when she will be a wife again, this is a key moment, and an enlightenment into the dynamics of the house. This hints at the nature of the relationship between Catherine and Eddie, even if it is not physical. Catherine and Rodolpho have been on a date, and Eddie is not happy, well he can see Catherine slipping away from him. He speaks to her afterwards and tries to convince her that Rodolpho only wants her to become a legal citizen of the USA, Catherine has a loyalty to Eddie and so listens to him.
Beatrice and Catherine then have a scene alone, in which Beatrice is sorting out Catherine’s hair. However she is open with Catherine and displays her feelings, she wants to break the bond between Eddie and Catherine and for her to become independent of him. Beatrice then explains how the two behave together and it does come across as a little improper. Like Catherine going in the bathroom with Eddie and walking around in a nightie etc. Beatrice is not so much jealous, or blames Catherine, but it a little older and wiser and knows how men work, i.e. that this will get any man’s blood pumping. Here we can see how the situation effects Beatrice and the pain she feels as a result, yet hides. Episode 4… This is in Eddie’s lawyer’s office, where he is looking for the law to help him with his situation, i.e. how he can split up Catherine and Rodolpho. Alfieri suggests that he ‘shop’ Rodolpho to the immigration, other wise there is no other way that the law can intervene. But Eddie is not ready to go this far, yet! Alfieri also hints at the feelings Eddie has for Catherine, although Eddie is shocked by the implications. As they say the truth hurts. Episode 5… This is the last in the first Act of the play and ends with a climax that would have anyone on the edge of their seat. Eddie is upset and feels a little stupid, so he has a go at the illegal immigrants, he warns them of the dangers they face, i.e. with the authorities. Events lead up to a boxing lesson in which Marco ends up doing a trick with a chair, to illustrate his strength and warn Eddie. (such a male thing to do) - Act 2. Episode 6… Alfieri warns us that Eddie is drunk, and so since we are told we must presume this is a key aspect of this scene. We see the first, and only scene, where Rodolpho and Catherine are together, and the most loving part of the play. This illustrates th
e relationship between the two and shows that love has grown. It is I feel one of the most tender and moving scenes in the play, as we have never seen the two alone together prior to this. However the mood soon shifts to violence and shock, with a drunken Eddie coming into the mood and disturbing it. There are feelings of homosexuality and incest as Eddie kisses Catherine and Rodolpho. This may not be that bad to us, who have seen some things in movies, but you must imagine the response of the audience at the time! Alcohol is the initial reason we give for his actions, but as we all know alcohol only gives you the confidence to act out your true feelings and do what you truely want to. Eddie may feel he has one, but he hasn’t, he has only succeeded in isolating himself and pushing Catherine away from him. Episode 7… This is a very short part of the play where Alfieri and Eddie have another meeting but Eddie will not listen to the lawyer. We see the desperation that Eddie has and know what he is going to do, Eddie ultimately informs the law about the illegal immigrants Marco and Rodolpho, he betrays his family, friends and wife for his love of Catherine. Episode 8… Eddie and Beatrice argue once again, this time about the way Eddie is behaving. Marco and Rodolpho are then arrested and it is clear they think Eddie is to blame, and rightly so. Marco manages to get away from the grip of the people arresting him twice and does two things, spits in Eddie’s face (a sign of hatred and disrespect) and then makes a pubic accusation, claiming it was Eddie that betrayed them. We get the sense that the people in the neighborhood, Eddie’s friends and colleagues believe Marco and turn away from Eddie. Episode 9… Again another short, yet significant, part of the play. Marco talks to Alfieri, and the lawyer explains to Marco that he should not harm Eddie when released on bail. Marco
agrees not to touch Eddie and will be shipped out of America in a few weeks time. However Rodolpho will marry Catherine now and be able to stay in the country. This makes Eddies betrayal a little ironic. Episode 10… The final section of the play and where everything comes together, the tensions between the characters particularly. Beatrice is a woman split in two, she wants to be loyal to her husband but also attend the wedding of her nice, whom she has come to love as a daughter. Rodolpho wishes to make peace with Eddie, I get the sense this is for the sake of his future wife and not Eddie, but Eddie is as stubborn as ever and refuses the offer, he chooses to insult Rodolpho instead. Eddie says that Marco took away his good name and the respect of his peers by publicly accusing him, ad so only wants to avenge these actions. Beatrice however is a wise woman and knows that Eddie is really only interested in Catherine, so she takes pleasure in pointing out that she is unattainable. This winds him up and leads to the final scene, a collision between Eddie and Marco. The two argue and Eddie brings out a knife, but Marco over powers him and Eddie is the one who is stabbed, but by his own hand. As he dies Beatrice and Catherine stay with him, the two women he loves and has ultimately died due to his love for one of them, comfort him to the end. Eddie has no one to blame but himself for his downfall. Well that’s basically the play, I would recommend that you pay attention to the stage directions if reading this, as they do give a lot away and add to the whole drama of the scenes. I suppose you cannot understand a play without understanding the movements and actions of the characters. The language… This plays a key part in the play, since the characters are Italian-Americans Miller uses ‘bad’ English and a lot of slang. Only one character speaks with poise and sophisti
cation – Alfieri. The language of the play aids our understanding and allows the reader/viewer to be drawn into it more. I always find I am a little put off if there are too many big words. The language makes it more real and allows us to sympathies more with the characters and their situations. Very easy to read and listen to as well. To conclude… This is a fantastic play that deals with the struggle of a man and his want to keep his family together. It is a very profound piece of drama and one of Miller’s finest. I like the play a lot for the fact that it can be taken on many levels and there is so much going on it will keep your mind active and ticking over. You can almost guess the plot of the play but that is half of the fun, to find out that a great mind like Miller thinks in the way we do. Full of drama and suspense this will appeal to everyone and keep you gripped. It is only a short play so it can be read in a few hours, which I have done on many occasions. Something which can be enjoyed by all and I think everyone should read it, or see the play once in their life, it is a brilliant tragedy set against the back drop of Brooklyn. You may have to adjust your mind a little to understand the reactions of the desired audience, as we are not as easily shocked now a days. Brilliant stuff though. My copy is a little battered now but it doesn’t cost a lot, a life time investment, just don’t get a paperback, it will get old quickly! Don’t miss out on this one. If you enjoyed this play I would suggest ‘All my Sons’ another fantastic offering by Miller, with a similar theme of downfall and self-destruction.
I'm studying Arthur Miller's "A View From The Bridge" for my A Level Englsh Literature course, and its probably the most engaging play I've ever read. Mixing social commentary on Italian-American communities in the 1940s with a highly effective sense of drama and tension, this is perhaps Arthur Miller's best play. The play focuses on middle-aged longshoreman (docker) Eddie Carbone, who lives with his wife Beatrice and niece Catherine. It is clear from the start that Eddie has unhealthy feelings towards his neice, a theme inspired by Miller's own fathers feelings towards his daughter. Life is going well for Eddie until the arrival of Italian illegal immigrants and Beatrice's cousins Marco and Rodolpho, who arrive in the small Brooklyn community to stay at the Carbone's in order to find work (of which there is none in their own community). When Rodolpho takes a shine to Catherine, who is just as much fascinated by him, this sparks a rage in Eddie which eventually leads to him phoning Immigration and reporting Marco and Rodolpho, which although follows the American law has a severe and fatal effect on Eddie's position in his own community, who seriously forbid such actions. Although I've yet to see the play on stage, Miller creates a huge amount of tension for the reader, especially in the scenes leading up to the final tragic outcome. Whats especially interesting is how Eddie, although irrational and unfair is made to be a tragic hero throughout the play, and Miller does this through narrator and lawyer to Eddie, Alfieri, who essentially provides the "View From The Bridge". A wonderful and interesting story thats inspired me to read other Arthur Miller plays, "A View From The Bridge" is a play I would recommend to anyone.
Arthur Miller's, "A View from the Bridge" must be one of the few plays that can actually leave you still liking it after have to read and anylyse each word for 2 years when doing it for GCSEs. It is one of the less well known plays that Arthur Miller produced, but I think that it is one of his best along with, "The Crucible". It tells the story of Eddie, a longshoreman who lives with his wife and niece, Catherine, in a poor town called Redhook. Although Catherine is 17, Eddie still thinks of her as a little girl and is very protective of her and to begin with Catherine does not mind this as she loves Eddie. However, with the arrival of his wife's 2 cousins who are travelling to America illegally in hope of the American Dream and Catherine's immediate attraction to one of them, Eddie soon realises that he cannot let go of Catherine and loves her sexually as well as as his neice. His jealousy of this new immigrant destroys him and eventually hecalls hte police to have the two immigrants found out and sent back to Italy where they came from. However, in a community of longshoremen who are mostly illegal immigrants, this act degrades him to an outcast socially and in rage he fights with Marco, the stronger of the two and is killed. Being both tragic and amusing in parts this play should not be missed!