A (Re)view from the Bridge
Arthur Miller’s kitchen-sink drama, A View From the Bridge, now on at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory, is the tale of the ordinary lives of an Italian-American family, set in 1950s Brooklyn.
Head of the family, and second generation immigrant, Eddie Carbone (Mark Letheren) is a peer of the close-knit community in which they live. He works hard on the docks, providing stability for his wife Beatrice (Katy Stephens), and Catherine (Laura Waldren), the orphaned daughter of his sister-in-law. Catherine, on the cusp of womanhood, desperately wants to spread her wings and take up the offer of work as a stenographer for a local plumbing company, but Eddie is reluctant to let her make her way into the world.
Into an already tense household, Beatrice’s cousins arrive from Sicily: illegal immigrants, Marco (Aaron Anthony) and Rodolpho (Joseph Tweedale). At first the young men from the old country are welcomed, but, as Eddie sees a relationship blossom between Rodolpho and Catherine, the dark secret of his own feelings towards his niece is revealed. His seemingly patriarchal concern barely conceals the heat of his misplaced love for her, and the ensuing madness of his jealous frustration erupts with dire consequences. Torn apart by entrenched instincts of honour and loyalty, identity and reputation, the forces of overwhelming passion propel the family into the depths of an unstoppable tragedy that is utterly heart-wrenching to witness.
The Tobacco Factory’s theatre in the round is the perfect setting for this first production from newly appointed Artistic Director Mike Tweddle. The intimate staging of this slice-of-life drama is spellbinding: as tension is ratcheted to the max at close quarters, there were moments when you could have heard a pin drop. A well-deserved standing ovation bore testament to the impeccable and nuanced performances of the entire cast. Special mention should be made of Laura Waldren, whose professional debut as Catherine was superb.
CW (in those borrowed stilettos again)
Photos: Mark Dawson Photography
A View from the Bridge is on at the Tobacco Factory Theatres until Sat 12 May.