A View from the Bridge

Arthur Miller
Octagon Theatre Bolton, Headlong, Chichester Festival Theatre & Rose Theatre
Octagon Theatre

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Jonathan Slinger as Eddie Credit: The Other Richard
Jonathan Slinger as Eddie and Kirsty Bushell as Beatrice Credit: The Other Richard
Rachelle Diedericks as Catherine and Luke Newberry as Rodolpho Credit: The Other Richard
Rachelle Diedericks as Catherine Credit: The Other Richard
Tommy Sim'aan as Marco with the rest of the cast Credit: The Other Richard
Lamin Touray as Mike, Elijah Holloway as Louis and Jonathan Slinger as Eddie Credit: The Other Richard
Rachelle Diedericks as Catherine and Jonathan Slinger as Eddie Credit: The Other Richard
Jonathan Slinger as Eddie Credit: The Other Richard

On the barest of sets—designer Moi Tran's glossy black stage and walls backed with a large red 'neon' "Red Hook" sign containing nothing but a swing, some chairs and a record player, overlooked by a wood-panelled balcony—director Holly Race Roughan presents a very intense revival of Miller's working class American tragedy.

Miller tells the story in the past tense (like Tennessee Williams in The Glass Menagerie) through lawyer Alfieri (Nancy Crane), who recounts with sadness the series of events as though they were an unstoppable train with the outcome inevitable once they were set in motion, just like in a classical tragedy.

Eddie Carbone works on the waterfront and lives in an Italian-American neighbourhood in New York with his wife, Beatrice, who has arranged for them to hide from the immigration officers a couple of her cousins from Italy, where people are starving due to the lack of work. Marco is strong and a hard worker, determined to earn as much money to send back to his wife and three children as he can before going back, but his younger brother, Rodolpho, likes to spend his money on having a good time and has no plans to return to Italy.

Marco is Eddie's idea of a real man, but he is suspicious of Rodolpho as he is blond, likes to sing and can cook and make dresses. On top of that, the young man takes an interest in Eddie's teenage niece, Catherine, with whom Eddie has a complicated relationship of which his wife is suspicious, and that interest is reciprocated. When Alfieri tells Eddie the law can't help him against someone just because he has a feeling they are "not right", he may have to resort to actions he previously considered unthinkable.

Although the set avoids realism, the performances are very true-to-life, with dialogue that is often rapid and overlapping and relationships between these well-drawn characters that feel very natural and easy within a family that is, initially, close and loving. However, the production steps out of realism with some very effective punctuation of key moments with lighting (Alex Fernandes) and sound—Max Perryment's music subtly and sometimes barely noticeably enhances the mood of many scenes, erupting into loud operatic voices around each act (although the Octagon's sound system sounded like it was struggling to cope with the volume).

The whole cast work well as an ensemble, but the focus is on the central trio of Rachelle Diedericks as innocent but loving Catherine, Kirsty Bushell as conflicted Beatrice, trying to bring the two people she loves together and get her husband to see sense, and Jonathan Slinger's Eddie, a loving family man who is struggling to fulfil his own image of masculinity and is threatened by a man who is happy to step outside of it. He is also full of pent-up aggression and frustration, unwilling to confront his issues with his wife in the bedroom or over his feelings for his niece. His is a character you can sympathise with and recognise while also wanting to shake some sense into him.

Beyond them, Tommy Sim'aan and Luke Newberry are exactly as the characters of Marco and Rodolpho are described, and the ensemble is completed by Elijah Holloway (in his professional debut) and Lamin Touray.

This production has plenty of laughs, tears and high drama and is well worth catching here or in one of the other venues in this short tour.

Reviewer: David Chadderton

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