By Simone Mumford
Boasting an elite cast and production team, York Theatre Royal introduces Juliet Forster’s heart-rending production of Arthur Miller’s A View From The Bridge. The story centres on the arrival of two Italian immigrants, Rodolpho and Marco, and their impact on the fragile, American Dream-like family of Eddie, Beatrice and Catherine Carbone.
Inspired by an extract from Miller’s autobiography, Forster chose to include actors of varying ethnicities and nationalities in the cast. This serves to accentuate the ironies and intricacies relating to immigration in the play. Most prominent is Eddie’s disassociation with his Italian heritage and the perception of himself as being an ‘American’.
As befits the setting of the play, Rhys Jarman emulates a minimalistic 1950s household interior superimposed on an industrial shipyard. Moreover, the positioning of a bridge above the set design not only usefully catered for additional entrances and exits, but acted as a symbolic nod to the metaphorical ‘bridge’ that the characters found themselves on – be it, a bridge between ages or cultures, the set allowed for endless interpretation with little need for visual or technical gimmicks. The amalgamation of the domestic and exterior environment kept the audience hyper-conscious of the influence of events on the wider community throughout.
Although, on the whole, the cast was remarkable, two performances, in particular, deserve high praise. Nicholas Karimi perfectly inhabits the irascible and infinitely complex role of protagonist Eddie Carbone. Whilst the first Act was excellent, it was Karimi’s performance in the second half of the play that precipitated convulsions of horror, distress and heartbreak to ripple through the audience – all positive things in this context. One particular moment involving Eddie, Catherine, and Rodolpho – which I dare not spoil – had me agape with shock due to Karimi’s complete commitment to this perturbing moment.
Another very important mention is actor Pedro Leandro’s performance as the charming yet tragic Rodolpho. His transformation from being a hopeful and endearing adolescent in the first act – ‘charming-the-pants-off’ the audience with his honey-toned rendition of The Mills Brothers’ ‘Paper Doll’ – to a matured character facing adulthood in the second act was astonishing to behold.
Once again, York Theatre Royal presents a slick and deeply moving production. Furthermore, it is always encouraging to see theatre companies employing such a diverse range of actors, a feature of this play that further underscored the intentions and ideas of Miller’s text. At times, there was perhaps a small lapse in energy or timing, however, I do no doubt that these issues will be ironed out over the coming weeks, allowing for the magnificence of this play to be realised in its entirety.