A View from the Bridge
The very best plays, like A View from the Bridge, are director and concept proof. Arthur Miller's vision of Italian-American treachery has the mythical quality of a Greek tragedy featuring meaty roles that allow the best actors to shine.
Ivo van Hove from Amsterdam's Toneelgroep favours a stripped-down presentation on a bare, thrust stage with almost every element presented in black and white.
The reason for this monotone design ethos only becomes apparent in a stunning curtain display at the end of two taut hours. Indeed, in years to come, that final vision will live in the memory when much else has faded away.
The early scenes show Mark Strong as a muscular Eddie Carbone, the Red Hook (Brooklyn) longshoreman who has a love for Phoebe Fox playing his 17-year-old ward Catherine, which reeks of sexuality to everyone but the innocent pair.
It is hardest of all to take for Nicola Walker's Bea, married to impotent Eddie and despairing over his almost subconscious foolishness.
An uncomfortable situation becomes untenable when a pair of submarines (illegal immigrants), Bea's cousins, arrive from across the Atlantic to make some money for the impoverished folks back home in Sicily.
While Emun Elliott's muscular Marco is serious and has no purpose beyond supporting his wife and three children, younger brother Rodolpho has different ideas.
He is unattached and sees a glowing future in New York City. The handsome blond immediately discovers a mutual attraction with Catherine and consequently disaster beckons.
Instantly blinded by jealousy, Mark Strong's character takes on all of the facets of a wronged bull, bellowing and crying at the same time as flexing his ample muscles. The disappointed non-lover even enlists the aid of Michael Gould's playing dishevelled narrator / lawyer Alfieri but fails to listen to good advice from that source.
The drama somewhat stalls in a slow scene in the family home and another featuring the young lovers, where the director seems keener to make artistic points than drive the narrative forward but thereafter, it heads inexorably towards an inevitable denouement.
Despite some auteurial moments that do the original few favours, Arthur Miller has written far too strong a play for viewers to come away disappointed.
The tragedy of Eddie Carbone is timeless and harrowing, aided on this occasion by an outstanding performance from Mark Strong who gets excellent support particularly from the two leading ladies, young Miss Fox showing great promise, and also Luke Norris as Rodolpho.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher