A View from the Bridge – Review – York Theatre Royal
By Gail Schuster, September 2019
A View from the Bridge is one of playwright Arthur Miller’s many popular works and is set amongst the Italian immigrant community of Brooklyn’s Red Hook district, New York. The era is 1950’s America, when many people were leaving European countries destroyed by war and going in search of the American Dream.
The play follows hardworking, traditional dockworker, Eddie Carbone, acted by Nicholas Karimi. Eddie lives with his wife Beatrice and his niece, played by Lili Miller. They are eagerly expecting Beatrice’s cousins, Marco and Rodolfo, to arrive from Sicily but there are clearly strains in their relationships already.
“Codes of honour”
Following the arrival of the illegal immigrants, tensions rise still further as Rodolpho and Catherine become attracted to one another. Eddie does not recognise his infatuation with Catherine for what it is and is ultimately driven, by his jealousy, to an unforgivable betrayal. The drama, through the interactions of the family, examines the themes of love, codes of honour, justice and law against racial and gender prejudice.
Karimi performs the role of Eddie well, starting the evening as the sort of family man who goes bowling with his friends but, as the narrative progresses, his actions become more aggressive and controlling. He is someone who sets store by people treating him with the respect that he thinks he deserves; he also has very fixed views on how men and women should behave. From the beginning, like an unfolding Greek tragedy, the audience can start to see the flaws in him which will lead to his inevitable downfall and from which he seems unable to escape.
“Credible and believable”
Laura Pyper portrays his faithful and loyal wife Beatrice, who defends Catherine’s right to independence and tries to get her husband to see the folly of his ways. Lili Miller’s character, Catherine, is torn as she moves from loving niece to frustrated protagonist through the conflict of her respect for Eddie and her right to marry the man she chooses. As the volume rises in Eddie’s voice so does Catherine’s fear of him. All the main performers including Pedro Leandro and Reuben Johnson as Rodolpho and Marco respectively, were credible and very believable.
The lawyer, Alfieri, portrayed with dignity, by Robert Pickavance, is an interesting conceit used by Miller. Assuming the role of narrator and Eddie’s advisor, he is the only person who has a foot both inside and out of the close-knit Red Hook community. He too is of Italian immigrant stock and can see the struggle between codes of honour and the letter of the law.
Immigration is now once again at the centre of politics, but this production makes no nod to that. This is not a modern adaptation, it is of its time; though that is not to say that it feels stale or dated, it doesn’t. Miller’s play and the themes in it are as relevant today as they were then.
This is a conventional production of A View from the Bridge with good solid performances by the leading members of the cast. It utilises a community ensemble for the peripheral characters, who could have been used to a greater extent to give a sense of life outside the Carbone family home. However, it was very well received by the audience and will no doubt please old Miller fans and make a few new ones too.
images: Ian Hodgson