A View From the Bridge
Playwright Arthur Miller
Director Iain Sinclair
Photos Prudence Upton
Ensemble Theatre until August 24
Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP
When the media release stated that A View From the Bridge would be a two-hour performance without an intermission, it seemed that, for a person who has a short attention span, it might be a test of endurance.
The setting is near the Brooklyn docks in the 1950s. Italian/American longshoreman Eddie Carbone welcomes into his home two young Italian men, Marco (David Soncin) and Rodolpho (Scott Lee), who have entered America illegally. Also living in the house are Eddie’s wife Beatrice (Janine Watson), and Beatrice’s orphaned, teenage niece, Catherine (Zoe Terakes).
When a relationship develops between Rodolpho and the young, protected and naive Catherine, Eddie decides that Rodolpho’s key motivation is to gain residency through marriage. The reason for conflict is firmly established and Eddie’s instincts of protectiveness, paranoia, jealousy and violence are exposed. Is his obsession with Catherine something other than fatherly? Is Rodolpho actually gay?
Also, is “the bridge” the Brooklyn Bridge or does it refer to local lawyer Alfieri (David Lynch) who breaks the fourth wall as the narrator? Alfieri establishes himself early as the voice of calm and reason and is eventually affected by the high emotion of the situation.
Whenever Australian actors are required to do American accents, especially New York ones, I prepare to cringe because it’s so often overplayed, but the cast, director and dialect coach Nick Curnow managed to nail it.
The simple set consisting of wooden floorboards, a black cyclorama and a single chair, puts pressure on the director and cast to maximise the script and the performances. As it turns out, any additions, including costume changes, would be superfluous. Some of the action creatively occurs during dead blackouts and serves to build the tension.
Impressive is the skill of Director Iain Sinclair. One of the senior actors told me that every day was a master class. Sinclair pulls superlative performances from his excellent cast.
In the small Ensemble Theatre you can tell when an actor takes a momentary break from their character, and on opening night, every cast member was in the moment for the entire performance, sustaining it and building to the climax over two continuous hours.
A View From the Bridge at the Ensemble Theatre is the most compelling, brilliant, emotion-charged, skilfully-directed drama that I’ve seen in the past ten years. This might raise your expectations, but you’ll discover that it lives up to them.