A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE by Arthur Miller
Nottingham theatre Royal
Miller's controversial, for the time, play about immigration, among other subjects, may be set in the 1950's when it had been written but look around, it's still as passionate a subject today in the media as it was back then, and this play pulls no punches.
One of the things that really excited me about this play was the intoxicating tension that was built up by all the actors and the dramatic black outs. That impending feeling that something was going to happen, something was going to kick off and not in a positive way. And of course anyone who knows the story, as I did, will know what that was. Even so, the tense atmosphere made you feel really uneasy about what was to unfold.
The play starts with lawyer and narrator of the play, Alfeiri, played by Michael Brandon, (for those old enough to remember, was Dempsey in "Dempsey and Makepeace"), and what a cracking performance he gave. Setting the scene and relating his advice throughout to Eddie, the play's protagonist, in the style of the old gangster movies, creating a wonderful 50's feel about his role and the play.
Eddie (Jonathan Guy-Lewis), is looking after his niece Catherine (Daisy Boulton) with his wife, Beatrice (Teresa Banham), but he has an unhealthy interest in her well being, and when she takes a shine to Rodolpho (James Rastall), one of the two Italian immigrants Eddie is housing, Eddie's protectiveness steps up a gear, with drastic results.
There are some really passionate performances put in here, especially from Jonathan, Daisy and Teresa. Rodolpho is perceived to be "not right" by Eddie for Catherine, which, due to Rodolpho's unusual blond hair for an Italian and his love of singing, dancing and making clothes, as well as his "confident" behaviour, is seen as gay by Eddie.Something he tries to prove to Catherine but failed to convince her. He feels that Rodolpho is using Catherine to gain legal citizenship by marrying her.
Rodolpho's brother Marco (Philip Cairns) is the polar opposite of his brother, strong, macho and silent. He is always willing to stick up for his brother and the first half ends with Marco giving Eddie a bit of a subtle warning after Eddie "accidentally" punches Rodolpho during a thinly veiled boxing lesson. This anger by Eddie towards Rodolpho sets the scene for the second half.
Miller wrote this play initially as a one act play but then re wrote it as two parts, and while I think it could still work as a one act play, the interval did give you time to digest the intensity of the "scene setting" of the first half, making the second half fly by with it's exciting action packed ending..
It takes great acting to keep the intensity of a play running, but it also takes a great director as well, and Stephen Unwin kept this nervous anticipation bubbling along.
A clever use of space onstage having all the scenes of Alfeiri's office, the bedroom, kitchen, main living area and several other minor settings all on show at the same time, but with the clever lighting, designed by Paul Pyant, we were able to focus an separate sections and areas of the stage. Plus there is a very clever, and again quite subtle touch of lighting effect when Eddie makes his decision on how to solve his issue with Rodolpho.
Really enjoyable and tension packed play with a great bit of fight choreography. You can see "A View From A Bridge" at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 7 March 2015. Should be on for a longer run in my opinion.