A View from the Bridge review: Arthur Miller classic in gripping close-up
Jason Blake - OCTOBER 23 2017
A View from the Bridge
Old Fitzroy Theatre, October 20. Until November 25
Stripped to its bare bones, this close-up and thrillingly lucid staging of Arthur Miller's tragedy makes your heart race. I haven't experienced a more gripping night in a theatre this year.
In his own introduction to A View from the Bridge, Miller describes the play's 1955 Broadway debut as "hard, telegraphic, unadorned drama. Nothing was permitted which did not advance the progress of Eddie's catastrophe in a most direct way."
Iain Sinclair, the director of this production, appears every bit as rigorous in his approach. Miller's story of a man's tragic obsession with his niece has the forensic spareness of a courtroom re-enactment with Miller's lawyer-chorus Alfieri (played here by David Lynch) talking to the audience as if it is a jury.
Played straight through (as was that original Broadway production), this View has a transfixing clarity to it. You can't look away.
Designer Jonathan Hindmarsh condenses Miller's setting to a bare wooden floor and a couple of chairs.
The town and culture of Red Hook, "the gullet of New York swallowing the tonnage of the world", is embodied rather than illustrated: in Ivan Donato's glowering Eddie Carbone; in Janine Watson's watchful Beatrice; in the guileless Catherine played by Zoe Terakes.
Donato has explored this territory before. He delivered a seething Othello in a Sport for Jove production of Shakespeare's tragedy in 2013. He brings something of that and more to the role of Eddie, a man tragically unaware of how far his protective feelings toward the niece he has raised as a daughter have strayed into the realms of taboo.
His brooding casts a pall over the room. He puts everyone – audience included – on eggshells and at point-blank range his rage is unsettlingly real.
"His eyes were like tunnels," recalls Alfieri of a meeting with Eddie and sure enough, Donato's are just that: boreholes into a man's deranged mind.
Donato's performance is matched by that of Terakes, whose portrayal of a teenager blossoming into womanhood and feeling her way toward an independent life is vivid, complex and endlessly shifting. It's hard to believe this is her stage debut. She's dynamite.
The supporting roles are convincingly drawn. David Soncin is excellent as the hard-working Sicilian migrant Marco, whose Old World sense of honour demands retribution in blood.
Lincoln Younes charms effortlessly as the singing, dress-making Rodolpho, Eddie's unwitting rival for Catherine's affections. Watson contributes strongly as the affection-starved Beatrice. Lynch is very effective as Alfieri, the Perry Mason of the piece.
Sinclair's production is tightly choreographed and finely calibrated but you don't feel a heavy directorial hand at work. His one obvious decision – to plunge the room into darkness at key moments – works extremely well.
Clemence Williams' sound design is subtly nerve-racking. Matt Cox governs the lighting expertly. A nod to dialect coach Nick Curnow too. Everyone sounds right.
While it's not as well known as Miller's The Crucible, or Death of a Salesman, A View from the Bridge is not an unfamiliar play.
So to be part of an audience moved to gasping at events many know are coming (and feel inexorable anyway) is exciting to say the least. To be among people stunned into a long silence, then moved to a standing ovation, is more satisfying still.