A View From The Bridge

Posted on: 20 February 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

Laurence Green reviews Arthur Miller’s classic drama that has been revived in a memorable new production in London’s West End.

The power and the passion of a man brought down by an uncontrollable, illicit love is superbly conveyed in Arthur Miller’s classic drama A View From The Bridge, which has been revived in a memorable new production directed by Lindsay Posner at the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End.

Italian-American longshoreman Eddie Carbone has made a good life for himself and his wife and orphaned niece in 1950’s Brooklyn.  From an immigrant family himself, Eddie is happy to house and protect his wife’s two Sicilian cousins who arrive illegally in pursuit of the ‘American Dream’. 

What Eddie doesn’t know is that this act of kindness will have a shattering effect on his whole life and the lives of those he loves, for when the niece, Catherine, now almost 18, falls in love with one of the immigrants, he becomes tormented by a frenzied jealousy as he secretly harbours an obsessive, almost incestuous longing for the niece he brought up from childhood. 

Consequently Eddie breaks the tribal code of a whole society by betraying them to the authorities and in doing so sets in motion the path to his own inevitable self-destruction.

This play about loyalty and betrayal and love and revenge achieves a tragic dimension in Posner’s beautifully judged production, and the fact that the work was written during the dark days of McCarthyism, a grim period of American history when names were being named to the House Un-American Activities Committee, but from which Miller emerged with dignity, gives it an extra frisson.

Christopher Oram’s evocative set captures the play’s claustrophobic, nightmarish quality by allowing us to see the peeling exterior of the family home and the shabby interior of this cramped environment.

But it is the performances that bring this work to blazing life and make such a stunning impact, led by a virtual tour de force from Ken Stott as the tough, decent but doomed Eddie, his battered weary face appearing comic one moment, distraught the next and downright evil a few minutes later and whose mixture of desperation and pent-up sexual desire always seems ready to explode. 

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as his long-suffering wife, Hayley Atwell as his spirited niece and Gerard Monaco and Harry Lloyd as the illegal immigrants also make a strong impression.

This certainly is one View you cannot afford to miss!

By Laurence Green

Show Details

When: Plays until 19th May

Where: Gielgud Theatre, London

Box Office: 0870 060 6623

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