A View from the Bridge - Review

Every so often a production comes along that stuns and takes your breath away. This production was one of them – the direction and the acting oozed quality.

The play centres on Eddie Carbone, a New York long-shoreman, who together with his wife Beatrice, has raised his orphaned niece Catherine. He finds it impossible to accept that she is no longer his “baby” and reacts to their relationship being threatened by her blossoming into womanhood. His obsession is unhealthy, leading to jealousy with the arrival of a young illegal immigrant, Rodolpho.

Although written in 1955 Arthur Miller’s play felt fresh, retaining its power as a tremendous piece of dramatic theatre. Like Greek tragedy there was an air of inevitability to the unfolding events and the play’s climatic and tragic ending. The similarity continued with the use of a Chorus – in this case a lawyer acting as the narrator. Jerry Lyne in this role was extremely convincing – his delivery and movements evoking a lifetime’s court room experience. It was as though he was addressing a jury and not just the audience.

The play is a skilful observation of relationships providing actors with challenging roles that were fully met throughout.

Bill Arundel’s Eddie was spot on – a raging bull unable to acknowledge the reason behind his jealousy is his incestuous feelings for his niece. His watchful eyes were constantly conveying his obsession. As his neglected wife, Tessa Pointing gave a performance full of passion and heartbreak, torn between loyalty and abhorrence.

Catherine was played by Hannah Brain with a trusting innocence and sweetness that was replaced by a feisty defiance when Eddie does not agree to her marriage. What a part for an acting debut and her performance promised much for the future.

Jeff Smith and Nick Heanen played the two immigrant brothers, Marco and Rodolpho. Smith impressed with an understated performance – all still and quietness until he erupts towards the end of the play whilst Heanen was the opposite. A bubbly portrayal that was full of life and hope, with an endearing softness in his wooing of Catherine. One tiny cavil though. Why, in a production that strove for realism to the extent that the pasta was eaten on stage, could he not be persuaded to dye his hair in order to live up to Rodolpho’s nickname of “Blondie”?

Realism, the keynote of this production, was achieved through Mark Wilson’s first rate direction and the excellent set design. Three acting areas were intermingled with the audience creating the effect that you forgot a play was being performed. You were made to feel that you were part of the family.

It is a sign of Wilson’s reputation for quality productions that experienced NVT actors such as Ben Pritchard and Mark Green, along with others, were content to have walk-on parts. Their contributions, no matter how small, demonstrated the importance of every actor to the success of a faultless production.

Congratulations to all concerned with this outstanding production.

Barrie Jerram
20 June 2010