Life & Culture

A View From the Bridge review: bridge in the shadow of a Miller classic


Kitchen talk: Dominic West as Eddie and Kate Fleetwood as Beatrice Credit: Johan Persson

A View From The Bridge

Theatre Royal, Haymarket | ★★★✩✩

We live in an era where theatre is no longer ephemeral but is often captured for ever in streamable form. Because of this every production of Arthur Miller’s classic will have to escape the shadow of director Ivo van Hove’s pared-down, landmark Young Vic version starring Mark Strong from ten years ago.

And although Lindsay Posner’s impressive new production, which was first seen in Bath, boasts Dominic West in the monumentally tragic role of longshoreman Eddie Carbone and Kate Fleetwood as his hollowed-out wife Beatrice, this one also has to make the case for a trip to the West End instead of watching Hove’s historic production on the NT Home streaming service.

True, recorded theatre can never match the power of the real thing, especially when the new live version of the play has performances this good. In the role of the middle-aged docker Eddie, who has brought up his wife’s orphaned niece Catherine (Nia Towle) like she was his own daughter, West is every inch the good man lost to an obsessive jealousy when Catherine falls for an illegal Italian immigrant staying in Eddie and Beatrice’s house. Fleetwood’s hollowed out Beatrice is also terrific as is Martin Marquez’s wise narrator lawyer Alfieri. Yet this version falters exactly where Van Hove’s stripped- back version excelled – in the tricky transitions between interior and exterior locations. Here Peter McKintosh’s design surrounds the action with towering, black wooden tenement blocks of Brooklyn’s Red Hook district. The result is that the play is never fully set within the Carbone home nor outside it. The kitchen table is always centre stage, distractingly so in the street scenes.

Van Hove’s expressionistic version solved the problem by setting everything within a prop-less square space bordered by a wall on which the actors sat waiting for their cue.

Those who saw it will this time miss that production’s speed, the inexorable ratcheting of tension, but also a compelling case to revive the play.

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