It might be almost 65 years since the curtain went up on the very first production of A View From The Bridge, but the subject matter is no less uncomfortable now than it was then.
Arthur Miller’s stark dissection of the American dream deals with illegal immigration, homophobia, obsessive love – and in this new co-production by York Theatre Royal and Royal and Derngate Northampton an air of violence is palpable in every scene.
Directed by Juliet Forster, the diverse cast successfully breathes new life into Miller’s script and for an audience living in a Britain polarised by Brexit, the issues raised will be familiar ones. At the heart of the action is Italian-American longshoreman Eddie Carbone, played with brooding brilliance by Nicholas Karimi.
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He shares a small apartment in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge with wife Beatrice and orphaned niece Catherine and in the tight-knit community where the trio rub along, reputation is everything.
The status quo is upended by the arrival of his wife’s Italian cousins, Marco and Rodolpho. They have entered the US illegally and as they try to evade the authorities they succeed in exposing the web of hypocrisy and double standards which lie beneath Eddie’s apparently ordinary existence.
With his blond hair, flamboyant dress and love of Broadway, Rodolpho is everything Eddie isn’t. Sensitively portrayed here by Pedro Leandro, Rodolpho is as effeminate as Eddie is macho and when he begins dating Catherine he lights a spark which quickly becomes an inferno.
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The resulting tragedy is hinted at throughout by narrator Alfieri (Robert Pickavance), a lawyer who acts as Miller’s chorus and whose assured presence lends the play an epic quality.
Rhys Jarman’s design successfully maximises the play’s claustrophobic atmosphere and by the end we are left in no doubt that while the bridge of the play’s title may be the gateway to a better life, there will always be some who, by force of circumstance or sheer ill luck, never get the chance to cross to that promised land.
To October 12.