Gus Herbert’s production of Miller’s famous play A View From The Bridge does justice to this tragic tale of flawed and helpless characters navigating their way through a sinister, gritty world. Captivating the audience throughout, the play leaves its viewers questioning and reflecting after the last bows have been taken. Set in Red Hook, Brooklyn, A View from the Bridge tells the story of protagonist, Eddie Carbone, as his life spirals into destruction, due to his own self-centred nature and dependency on denial.
The play opens with the character, Alfieri, who acts as intermediary between characters onstage and the audience, as he addresses the audience directly, breaking down the fourth wall and setting the context for the play. Nick Gill delivers this opening monologue with conviction and successfully introduces the emotional undercurrents that resonate throughout the rest of the play.
“The contradictory characteristics of fragility and strength portrayed by both Sasha Butler and Lou Knapp in their respective roles is impressive”
The audience is then introduced to the protagonist, Eddie, a Longshoreman by occupation and draws on the characteristics of Italian-American working class men. It is from this viewpoint that Eddie’s character is based, as are the surrounding characters he interacts with. Harry Bradley presents a complicated and troubled antihero – one motivated by selfishness, and a childlike obsession to obtain and possess whatever he desires. He adeptly succeeds in portraying the emotional spectrum required for Eddie’s personality, while maintaining the feeling of increasing isolation as Eddie gets sucked deeper and deeper into his flawed perception of himself. While the audience is left generally repulsed by Eddie, there was something ‘perversely pure’ about his character. Indeed, despite his accusations that Catherine is only a baby, this claim seems more accurate in respect to his own character, with the vulnerability and insecurity conveyed by Bradley leaving the audience’s feelings towards the protagonist a mixture of mainly disgust and pity.
The women in the play, Beatrice, Eddie’s wife, and Catherine, their niece and Beatrice’s deceased sister’s daughter, are the channels through which many of the ideas in the play are conveyed. These include Eddie’s twisted attraction to his niece, the resulting breakdown of his matrimonial relationship, and an examination of gender roles. The contradictory characteristics of fragility and strength portrayed accurately by both Sasha Butler and Lou Knapp in their respective roles is impressive. This examination of gender is further enhanced through Marco and Rodolpho, two brothers, and Beatrice’s cousins who act as foils for each other. It is Rodolpho, the one who is ‘not right’ as Eddie repeatedly complains to Alfieri, and displays more effeminate traits, that ironically, threatens Eddie. Ben Standish attempts to balance elements of masculinity and femininity the role requires, including a praise-worthy rendition of “Paper Doll”.
“The audience sit on both lengths of the stage, increasing the feeling of ‘looking in’ on the play”
On the whole, the production delivers an emotionally layered and complex work with a minimalist take. Acting-wise, there was a mix of quality, with some of the supporting characters, oscillating in the strength of their performance. There was greater consistency from all actors in the second act, especially in the concluding scene. Recognition must be given to Hannah Kettle and Harry Bridge, for their success in the areas of set design, costumes and lighting. Whilst taking a minimalist approach, the deliberation and carefulness was wholly appropriate, better juxtaposing the emotional tenor of the play. The audience sit on both lengths of the stage, increasing the feeling of ‘looking in’ on the play. This proved to be an effective choice as it further enhanced the feeling of intimacy felt by the audience; a necessity considering the emotionally intriguing nature of the play. A View from the Bridge is definitely worth a watch, especially if you crave a thrilling, emotionally charged and contemplative piece of drama.
‘A View From The Bridge’ is running at Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 14th November. for more information see here
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