NODA Review by Joanne Rymer
A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller, first staged in 1955, has been created by amateur and professional theatre groups globally; the show is cleverly narrated by the seasoned lawyer Alfieri beautifully played by David Oliver, he both keeps the story moving forward and offers a moral sounding board and compass for Eddie, whilst bringing clarity to the poetic passages with which he opens, ends and punctuates the piece. Set at the edge of the stage, Alfieri, over the following months witnesses the demise and downfall of Eddie and the Carbone family.
The themes of immigration and toxic masculinity explored in the play has never been more relevant despite the Brooklyn set play being devised over 70 years ago. As with all of Miller’s work, there are multiple layers embedded in the rich script, which centres on longshoreman Eddie Carbone whose life unravels when his family illegally take in distant relatives from Sicily, who want to earn money to send home; then to become Americans.
At the core of the play is the Carbone household where Eddie rules over his rational but ultimately submissive wife Beatrice, his doting step-niece Catherine with whom he has an unhealthy, repressed relationship .
This is an excellent production and Caroline Kay is to be congratulated for her accomplished direction, she employs the cast on a terrific one set stage throughout, creating the claustrophobic nature of the world the Carbone family inhabit. Projected New York, Brooklyn backdrop plus atmospheric sound & lighting build a perfect picture – well done Roger Pullin, Mike Jones and Kate Morton.
The casting is very good indeed, with Richard Dodd totally convincing as Eddie a man who works hard, sits in his chair, and rules the family. Only when Catherine disobeyed him, wanting a different life did we see, the scowling, ranting, raving Eddie. Maggi Green is Beatrice, on the evening I attended this was not the strongest performance, missed opportunities to shine, especially in a scene when advising Catherine about her relationship with Eddie. Adam Michael is impressive as the proud and passionate Marco, as is Jason Gallentry (Paper Doll) as the easy going flamboyant sensitive Rodolpho. I was also very impressed with Alex Wharton as the vivacious coming of age Catherine. The budding romance with Rodolpho was very sweet, sharing her joy as she experiences life outside of the neighbourhood; a lovely performance Alex well done. Even the accents, often a pitfall of amateur productions, were more than acceptable, at least to my ear.
Good supporting performance from Elliot Kinnear playing the loyal friend and fellow longshoreman Louis; pops up again as the unforgiving immigration officer. Joan Mason plays Mrs Lipari visiting from Sicily.
It is when Catherine falls in love with Rodolpho and they plan to marry, Eddie is forced into a decision which has irrevocable consequences for all the family.
It is the day of the wedding Marco uncovers the betrayed by Eddie to the immigration authorities and is forced into a murderous act of revenge.
The dramatic energetic final scene is played out within the neighbourhood and the use of this ensemble, makes it genuinely feel like the entire block is watching the death of Eddie Carbone play out in front of their eyes. Extremely powerful scene, well done to all concerned.
In his role as lawyer/ narrator Alfieri acts as the bridge between the two societies, old Sicily and modern America, hence the duality of the title. He pronounces his judgement on the events at the conclusion by saying that Eddie ‘allowed himself to be wholly known’, this flaw leading to his ultimate downfall in the tradition of Greek tragedy.
This is a challenging piece both in terms of staging and emotional intensity and the Bebington Dramatic Society has risen to it with great success, creating a tremendously satisfying evening of theatre.
Thank you for my invitation I hope to see you all again soon.