King’s Theatre: 28 April – 2 May 2015
A strange and mysterious 1950s New York is explored in the Consortium Theatre Company’s take on Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge, but the production fails to completely convince.
Set in an Italian American neighbourhood near Brooklyn Bridge, this is a place of honour and justice – not a legal justice, but one of unspoken honour among its people.
Alfieri (Michael Brandon from Dempsey and Makepeace) is the lawyer in these parts and his opening monologue sets the scene, as one of a close knit community where familial relations and respect run strong.
The scenes that follow reinforce that view. We see the daily lives of Eddie Carbone (Jonathan Guy Lewis), his wife Beatrice (Theresa Banham) and his niece Catherine (Daisy Boulton) in their cosy Red Hook tenement. Stephen Unwin’s direction is immediately charming, adding delightful touches to the picture of the Carbones’ family life that add a deepened element of characterisation that is both welcoming and familiar.
This all changes when they welcome Marco (Philip Cairns) and Rodolpho (James Rastall), Beatrice’s cousins, and illegal immigrants from Sicily, to their home. A dangerous undertone is introduced – one of hiding and suspicion. It becomes a place where informers are rats, reviled and shunned by their families and neighbourhoods.
overprotective, controlling and overbearing
A View From the Bridge explores what happens when an established family dynamic, albeit already unhealthy in its functioning and dynamics, is rocked. Eddie appears the overprotective, controlling and overbearing uncle acting in his niece’s best interests. But as Catherine and Rodolpho grow closer, it soon becomes clear that Eddie’s feelings for his niece run deeper than an uncle’s love should.
Teresa Banham (Beatrice) Jonathan Guy Lewis (Eddie) James Rastall (Rodolpho) Daisy Boulton (Catherine) and Philip Cairns (Marco). Photo Consortium Theatre Company
Jonathan Guy Lewis not so much steals the show, he IS the show. His performance as Eddie Carbone is strong, commanding and magnificently compelling. He delivers the primary setting of morality, he adds drama, he delivers humour, he demands empathy, he instills hatred and he drives the intense tension throughout. Eddie’s outcome is perhaps clear from the beginning, but Lewis really brings it to life. And with that life, manages to convey a sense of reluctant futility.
However, where Lewis shines he also eclipses the rest of the cast. There’s an almost imperceptible sense that there is something missing from the production. While there is nothing specific to criticise, neither is there anything to truly sparkle.
Theresa Banham plays Beatrice, Eddie’s long-standing and neglected wife with a sense of subtlety. Daisy Boulton’s Catherine begins the play as a wide-eyed, girlish character with a childlike vigour. Yet both seem to fade to the background, relying on Arthur Miller’s words to convey their emotions rather than embodying them.
So too the scenes between Catherine and Rodolpho fall flat, with no discernible chemistry or connection to warrant the commotion their romance causes. As the intensity of the play increases through the second act, it does so without an emotional grounding to contextualise the love and the pain.
It’s almost as though Eddie is validated in his objections to the romance, seeing it as a mechanism for Rodolpho to gain citizenship. It’s almost confusing. Almost.
That’s not to say the view from this Bridge lacks drama; it certainly doesn’t. It’s gripping and entertaining with Lewis delivering a punchy spectacle. The Consortium Theatre Company delivers a highly enjoyable, tense and above all honourable production that represents Arthur Miller’s Brooklyn vision. It just needs to pack a little more punch to completely convince.
Running time: 2.30 hours (including interval)
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ
Tuesday 29 April – Saturday 2 May 2015
Evenings 7.30 pm, Matinees Wed and Sat at 2.30 pm
Tickets and information from http://www.edtheatres.com/viewfromthebridge