The 1920s New York setting of Arthur Miller’s A View From The Bridge is specific: but its themes of love, respect and betrayal are universal. In this tight and claustrophobic production by John Dove, emotions boil and churn in a melting pot of tragedy and fateful inevitability, as one man’s view becomes increasingly clouded by his emotions.
Eddie Carbone (Stanley Townsend) is patriarch of an honest and hard-working Sicilian-American family unit. His orphaned niece Catherine (Kirsty Mackay) has grown into a beautiful and headstrong young woman, whilst his wife Beatrice (Kathryn Howden) hides her feelings of defeat behind a veneer of family responsibility.
When Marco (Richard Conlon) and Rodolpho (Gunnar Cauthery), Beatrice’s cousins, arrive illegally from Sicily, Eddie finds his status quo – and his role of authority – challenged, setting a chain of events in motion which are told in flashback, narrated by the unambitious but honest lawyer Alfieri (Liam Brennan).
Carbone’s conflict and transformation are central to the play, and Townsend is more than up to the task of portraying a tortured man, torn apart by his suppressed feelings and sense of pride. Dominating the stage like one of the rusting cranes from the dockyard where Carbone and the men from A View From The Bridge make their living, his performance evokes equal part sympathy and revulsion as the impact of his decisions takes hold.
Howden’s typically subtle and nuanced turn as Beatrice is also strong; her character perhaps being the most tragic of all, caught between loyalty to her husband and her projected desire to see Catherine free to live her own life. Mackay portrays Catherine in a similar manner to her performance as Juliet at the Lyceum last year: walking a precariously balance between youth and womanhood. Cauthery and Conlon round out the principal cast well, the latter in particular capturing Marco’s heated passion convincingly.
An impressive revolving set not only portrays the exterior and interior of the Carbone household, but is also a fitting metaphor for the facades the characters hide behind. By literally showing us what goes on behind closed doors, Dove thrusts us straight into the midst of the characters’ turmoil, an effect which is only slightly diminished when the focus pulls back during Alfieri’s narration.
After the enjoyable frivolity of the festive season, it is good to see The Lyceum return to some more hard-hitting drama; this gripping production of Miller’s classic is a welcome start to their new year and – with its themes of the nature of justice and the struggle to survive through financial hardship – provides a view we can all relate to.
A View From The Bridge runs until 12 February. Times and ticket information are available on the Lyceum website.