Monday, 9 June 2014
A View From The Bridge at The Young Vic
Praise has already been heaped upon Belgian director Ivo Van Hove’s production of Arthur Miller’s A View From The Bridge at The Young Vic and luckily I managed to get to see it before the run ended last night. I can’t think of enough superlatives to describe how good a production this is and as practically the whole theatre stood to applaud at the end, they obviously agree with me.
In a three sided, see through empty box, akin to a boxing ring, the barefooted actors pad around and encircle one another often with Faure’s Requiem playing in the background. There are practical reasons for Jan Versweyveld’s bare staging, all of which are revealed at the end of the mesmerising two hours, when the cast, enveloped in a rugger type scrum get rained upon by a torrent of red “blood”. Such is the racked-up tension by director Ivo Van Hove that we all know (even those not familiar with Miller’s take on a Greek tragedy) that the denouement won’t be pretty. And such is the brilliance of the whole cast, that we are caught up, carried along and left exhausted, emotionally spent and elated when the die is cast.
A View From The Bridge centres around Eddie Carbone, inhabited here by the magnificent Mark Strong, who works as a longshoreman in 1950’s Brooklyn. He and his wife, Beatrice, the equally brilliant Nicola Walker, have brought up her orphaned niece, Catherine since childhood. Now seventeen, Catherine is ready to spread her wings, but Eddie is not so keen. Still treating her like the child she often appears to be, we realise that his is a suffocating, all consuming, unhealthy love. A love which bothers his long suffering wife, Bea and also eventually threatens to alienate the doting niece. Eddie’s jealousy knows no bounds when Bea’s two Sicilian cousins arrive to stay with them, unleashing a series of events that have terrible consequences. For Catherine falls in the love with Rodolpho, the younger brother, the love is reciprocated and Eddie is unable to come to terms with it. Add the fact that the cousins have entered the States illegally and you have a tinder box situation where betrayal, seething resentment and ultimately violence is the outcome. We, the audience watch appalled as the tragedy unfolds, as does the lawyer who is narrating the story.
There are outstanding performances from the whole cast. Mark Strong captures the pain and emotional breakdown of Eddie with such raw emotion that we feel for him whilst at the same time despairing of his actions. Nicola Walker’s despair at what her husband is doing to the family is heartbreaking to watch, whilst Phoebe Fox manages to portray Catherine’s childishness whilst at the same time highlighting her metamorphosis into a young woman. Michael Gould as Alfieri the anguished lawyer helps to build the tension and there is also excellent work from Luke Norris as Rudolpho and Emun Elliot as his brother Marco. Marco’s lifting of the chair in order to show his muscular superiority over Eddie is so threatening that the spine tingles.
Ivo van Hove has surely produced a superlative piece of theatre and I left the Young Vic feeling I had witnessed something very special indeed.