Review: A View from the Bridge proves a moody masterpiece on Northampton stage
Lily Canter reviews A View from the Bridge at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton
The themes of immigration and toxic masculinity explored in Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge have never been more relevant despite the Brooklyn-set play being devised over 70 years ago.
The modern classic faithfully adapted by director Juliet Forster is currently running at Royal & Derngate as a co-production with York Theatre Royal.
As with all of Miller's work, there are multiple layers embedded in the rich script, which centres on longshoreman Eddie Carbone whose life unravels when his family illegally take in distant relatives from Sicily.
Devised as a Greek tragedy with strong Oedipal undertones, the play is framed by lawyer Alfrieri, who acts as the narrator/chorus reflecting poetically on the inevitable downfall of flawed patriarch Eddie.
Examining justice, law and the struggle between rationality and passion, there are no easy answers to found in the conflicted narrative.
The impressive stage has a noir atmosphere with characters dramatically silhouetted against the dockland skyline. It is a shame however that the walkway and stairs are underutilised and the cast of community characters are given little to do other than whisper and look on disapprovingly.
At the core of the play is the Carbone household where Eddie rules over his rational but ultimately submissive wife Beatrice, his doting step-niece Catherine with whom he has an unhealthy, repressed relationship and their two secret lodgers - the strong but silent Marco and his flamboyant younger brother Rodolpho.
The first, lighter act of the play sets the scene gradually, reeling the audience in before uncomfortably tightening the screw in the dramatic second act.
Each of the leads gives impressive, impassioned performances although Lili Miller, as Catherine, is the weakest vocal link with her Brooklyn accent slipping all too frequently.
Although the narrative is structured around a story of immigration which alarmingly still rings true today, the script is awash with contemporary themes examining domestic abuse, identity and even knife crime.
But at the forefront is the question of what it means to be a man and the threat of alternative versions of masculinity. The production retains the 1950s setting and there is perhaps a missed opportunity to modernise the locale since the theme of male dominance resonates so strongly in the #MeToo era.
Ultimately however, Miller's dialogue is clearly a joy for the actors to perform and the audience to inhale proving that this great playwright continues to stand the test of time.
* A View from the Bridge runs at Royal & Derngate until Saturday October 26. Visit royalandderngate.co.uk to book.