A View From The Bridge – Review – Bradford Alhambra

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A View From The Bridge – Review

Bradford Alhambra, March 2015

by Sandra Callard

Written in 1956, Arthur Miller’s modern classic, A View From the Bridge, is now touring. It is a new production by the Touring Consortium Theatre Company. I went along to the Bradford Alhambra with some trepidation. I do not know much about Miller, bar his reputation as a playwright colossus, and one nerve-shattering viewing of The Crucible.

a view from the bridge alhambraThe set of A View from The Bridge has a compact and raw simplicity. Kitchen in one corner, bedroom in the other, dining table in the centre and the lawyer’s office stage right. The lawyer, played by a handsome and sympathetic Michael Brandon, takes on a double role as lawyer and narrator. He makes a cool and compelling Chorus to the ensuing tragedy.

Brooklyn longshoreman, Eddie Carbone, patriarch of a close knit Italian-American family consisting of ignored wife, Beatrice, and adored niece, Catherine. Brought up by the Carbones since infancy, at 17 she still acts like a loveable child towards Eddie. This produces in him a sexually subordinate longing to control Catherine.

“Gives an outstanding performance”

This he keeps in check, until it rises tumultuously to the surface when the family takes in two Italian immigrant cousins. Catherine falls in love with Rodolpho, one of two brothers. James Rastall is an engaging and somewhat oddly blond Rodolpho. He brings the charm of old Sicily to the grim world Catherine inhabits. His brother, Marco – a gentle performance by Philip Cairns – is a hard working man. He wants only to earn money to send to his family. At first, he is grateful to Eddie for that chance.

a view from the bridge yorkshiure theatreJonathan Guy Lewis plays Eddie. He gives an outstanding performance as a man in the powerful grip of feelings he neither understands, nor wants to let go of. Eddie’s antipathy to Rodolpho increases as he hears the news of the love affair. The dangers that may erupt from his plans to separate them is spelled out plainly by lawyer Alfieri, as Eddie asks his advice on how to get rid of Rodolpho.

“Deeply flawed personality”

His wife Beatrice is abandoned sexually as Catherine gets older and Eddie’s passion increases. She begs him to let the young lovers marry. Eddie betrays the cousins to the immigration officers. It is a fate that Rodolpho and Marco, and ultimately Catherine and Marco’s wife, do not deserve. They could never have anticipated it as they approach the promised land.

A View from the Bridge compares to Greek tragedy in that a tragic end is inevitable almost from the start of the play. None of the characters mean any harm to the others. But he shocking end is the result of Eddie’s deeply flawed personality and uncontrollable paranoia. The terrible disintegration of Eddie, as he feeds on his unhealthy love for Catherine, is hard to view. We feel his pain, whilst hating the result of his actions.

This production increases in drama and suspense as it moves towards its fateful end. The cast is superb. It takes the audience from the gritty, hard but normal life of Brooklyn, to the depths of aching despair. A gruelling journey to watch and a massive assault on the senses.

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