‘A View From The Bridge’, by Arthur Miller, was written by the playwright during the five years that he was married to Marilyn Monroe: consequentially it’s easy to speculate and draw parallels between the subject matter of the piece and the preoccupations of its author at that time.
The play tells the story of Eddie Carbone, a salt of the earth Longshoreman, his wife Beatrice (the always excellent Nicola Walker) and his coming-of-age niece. A family forever changed by the arrival of two visiting cousins from Sicily. What unfolds is a domestic dispute on a biblical scale.
Miller’s genius is his personalisation of epic themes: stories that speak to all of us whilst still concerning themselves with one family. Miller writes the family as a metaphor, as a parable, as a treatise. This piece is no exception; Eddie’s journey through the play reminds us of the pain of loss and of the desperate measures one can sometimes pursue to hang on to the precious.
This production, which started out at the Young Vic, is directed by Ivo Van Hove, maverick director of the Dutch ‘Toneelgroep’ theatre company. His staging of the play focuses on its pace and tragedy, drawing out each agonising moment: as if watching a slo-motion train wreck happening over the course of two hours.
Performances are unequivocally strong: with Phoebe Fox pitching the balance between innocence and wilfulness perfectly and Mark Strong fabulous as a man trapped by his own hubris and unmovable destiny. I did wonder, however, about the choice to make the Sicilian cousins speak with an American accent – a decision which defies logic (and geography).
Tense and unsettling throughout, there is a sublime, thrillingly painful theatricality to the last few moments of the play as it hurtles towards it’s inevitably tragic conclusion, which I won’t spoil by revealing here; suffice it to say that you should get a ticket now, if you still can.
Reviewed by Jody Tranter
A View From The Bridge is playing at the Wyndhams Theatre until 11 April 2015