It is not uncommon to see the works of esteemed playwrights, such as Arthur Miller, revived and revamped, attempting to put a new spin on plays which have been performed countless times. However, Touring Consortium Theatre Company present what feels like a very traditional production of A View From The Bridge; offering a frequently impressive and engaging insight into Red Hook, an heavily Italian-American area of New York, in 1950s, through the story of Eddie Corbane (Jonathan Guy Lewis). The play follows Corbane as he invites two illegal immigrants, Marco (Philip Cairns) and Rodolphio (James Rastall), cousins of his wife Beatrice (Teresa Banham) seeking a new life in America to stay with him, Beatrice and his niece Catherine (Daisy Boulton).
Through a quick burst of life from Alfieri’s opening passage, the audience is introduced to the busy, tight-knit society of Red Hook, “the gullet of New York”, in which the law means distrust but justice is important. Brandon’s Alfieri had great strength, so assured and calm in such a high-octane environment. Alfieri introduces us to Corbane, portrayed expertly by Lewis, the man whose tale we are to follow and one who, through Lewis’ performance, we cannot help but become immersed with. Lewis created a character who, regardless of your feelings towards him, you could not stop watching.
Brandon’s Alfieri had great strength, so assured and calm in such a high-octane environment
The physicality of the show en masse created dynamism between characters and for the play as a whole, avoiding drag and creating an energy to the story in which particular moments of stillness became more powerful. Despite the physicality, some dialogue heavy scenes, although rarely, did drag and, unfortunately, Rodolphio and Catherine’s accents both often seemed to slip. However, credit must go to the choreography and performance of the scene where Eddie teaches Rolophio to box. Something as simple as punches not looking as though they landed can really detract from a scene, an issue this production did not have. Movement, around the table for example, did at certain times feel slightly too staged and appeared clumsy in contrast to the many far more tight scenes.
The physicality of the show en masse created dynamism between characters and for the play as a whole
Beyond the actors’ physicality, an enormous visual strength of the production was its set and lighting design. The dynamism and speed of the play is maintained by both the external and internal settings being simultaneously present on stage throughout with a telephone pole, bed, cooker and office desk (to name a few), with the exterior of an apartment block as background each alluding to location without the stage becoming cluttered or requiring set changes. Well framed lighting, slick transitions and strong physical presences draw focus toward relevant areas of the stage and what under house lights may look like a mismatch of objects quickly becomes several distinct settings. Crucially, the stage was not segmented with areas exclusive to certain settings, which gave a more natural feel to the space used. It did not take much for the audience to realise that although visible, a telephone pole was not part of the Corbane’s dining room.
An enormous visual strength of the production was its set and lighting design
The use of sound was perhaps the productions largest flaw. Sound effects felt unnatural, particularly the sound of the door being knocked and what I assume was intended to be the sounds of the docks.
But, despite minor faults, the production as a whole does feel authentic. It is a powerful and engrossing representation of a play which, given today’s climate around immigration, seems as relevant as ever.