Review: A View From The Bridge at York Theatre Royal

Acclaimed by the director Juliet Forster as ‘ arguably one of the best plays ever written, ‘A View from the Bridge’ is certainly the best play Arthur Miller ever wrote.

By Angie Millard

Photos by Ian Hodgson

Unlike his other plays, Miller places the theme of the American Dream in a different context through which  intense human emotions are worked out. The tragedy is sharp and encompasses themes of immigration, social position, self-worth and masculinity which have a contemporary relevance although the play is more than 60 years old. It fulfils all the criteria laid down by the ancient Greeks for tragedy, and once the play begins we see this pattern unravel.

Juliet Forster has used a community cast to help place Eddie Carbone in his environment in Brooklyn. It is immensely important that the protagonist is seen through this prism and that he measures up  to the morals of those with whom he lives. His household consists of his wife and his niece. He is content until two of his wife’s Sicilian cousins come to stay; illegal immigrants who change the stability of his household.

Miller writes with superb precision, Eddie played Nicholas Karimi, a longshore man, respected and the boss of his household. He was physically impressive and gave us a raw physical performance.

His wife Beatrice played by Laura Piper sees the dangerous territory Eddie is straying towards in his relationship with his niece. She shows her concern with an initial restraint which builds credibly to confrontation. Catherine, his ward, played by Lilli Miller manages her transition from childish innocence to womanhood with sensitivity but the  passion she is beginning to feel for Rodolpho surfaces and destroys all.

We experience the confines of their close knit society and I do not wish to tell the story but when Eddie shelters the two Sicilian cousins, we understand that he is losing contol of events. He must gain supremecy and, in the second act, he finds an answer. There are two symbolic kisses used to effect this: Rudolpho (Pedro Leandro) kisses Catherine lovingly but then later Eddie kisses him during a violent scuffle. It is an act of the ultimate debasement. That kiss caused the play to be censored and it was premiered in a club, not a theatre. Today we see the importance of that kiss as the play rests on it.

The set is a room inside a tenement and the use of back lighting compliments it. The brooding atmosphere comes to a climax in the last scene where Reuben Johnson, as Marco the immigrant with a starving family in Italy, carries his desperation to a final terrifying resolution.

Robert Pickavance takes on a choric role as a lawyer/advisor; he should have intervened but instead stands by helplessly as his advice is ignored. He speaks directly to the audience, as we too watch the growth of Eddie’s deadly obsession.

Go to this production to see superb acting. Go to experience a gut-wrenching story but please do not miss it!

A View From The Bridge runs at York Theatre Royal between 24 September and 12 October. It is directed by Juliet Forster. Set and costume design is by Rhys Jarman. Lighting design is by Aideen Malone and Sophie Cotton is the composer.