Ken Stott, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Hayley Atwell,
Arthur Millers tale of betrayal amongst Brooklyn longshoremen was first conceived of as a verse drama in the fashion of a Greek Tragedy.
For its London premiere in 1956, which was to be directed by Peter Brook, Miller re-wrote it as a more conventional two-act play, though elements of its previous incarnation are discernable in the speeches of the lawyer Alfieri.
A View from the Bridge concerns Eddie Carbone, a hard shelled but essentially decent man, who lives with his wife Beatrice and his grown up niece Catherine in a cramped Brooklyn flat.
Eddie agrees to shelter Beatrices two cousins Marco and Rodolpho when they arrive in New York illegally, desperate for work so they can send money back to Marcos wife and children.
The younger of the cousins, Rodolpho, soon acquires a reputation among Eddies friends: the boy sings, he tells jokes; he has an amusing way about him. He also takes a shine to Catherine, something Eddie cannot tolerate. He thinks there is something not quite right about Rodolpho and that he is only using his niece in order to get an American passport.
Ken Stott bristles with volatility as Eddie, a man who doesnt seem to understand his own passions. He has watched his young niece grow into an attractive woman and at times he seems keen, not just to protect, but to keep her for himself. He is a mass of confusions, acting rashly and unable to handle the consequences, setting in motion a chain of events that can only end messily. Stott simmers like a faulty kettle, capable of exploding in your face at any given second.
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio exudes an air of tired resignation as Beatrice, a woman worn down by the day to day hardships of life. Her hunched, scuttling posture is that of woman older then her still-attractive face; she sees where things may lead but seems to accept there is little she can do to prevent it. Hayley Atwell also pitches her performance well as the slightly naive Catherine, not quite yet aware of the effect she has on men, still happy to sit on the bath and chat to her uncle while he stands in his underwear shaving in the bathroom.
Lindsay Posners production expertly builds the tension as the play heads towards its inevitable, foretold conclusion. There is a strong sense of a hot, cramped neighbourhood with its own imported rules and codes and the supporting cast, in the main, do well with their treacle thick Brooklyn accents.
Following its successful run in the West End the production is now on a brief tour of the UK and will be at the Glasgow Theatre Royal from 1 – 6 June 2009.