For those expecting just another straightforward revival of Arthur Miller’s classic 1955 play A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE this newest incarnation from the creative and out-of-the-box thinking director Ivo Van Hove may not be for you. But if you are willing to expect the unexpected you will be thrilled by The Young Vic Production now running at the Lyceum Theatre.
Even the theatre has undergone some new seating arrangements. Flanking the intimate and bare acting area reminiscent of a boxing ring encompassed by a low plexiglass bench are bleachers where audience members can get an up-close view of the terrific ensemble sparring with each other in this tragic tale of Eddie Carbone – a man who desperately wants respect and is destined to become a victim of his demons – a magnificent Mark Strong.
The Arthur Miller dialogue is intact. The situations and characters remain the same. But Mr. Van Hove has put his most original stamp on the proceedings.
There are no props. No furniture. Just a sparse acting area – a primal setting designed by Jan Versweyveld where we first hear a beautiful religious sounding chorus as Eddie and a fellow longshoreman from Red Hook Brooklyn circa 1950 are washing up – rather cleansing themselves after a hard days labor – grabbing our attention at once.
The actors are barefoot. And bold. We are in another world. Red Hook but not really Red Hook. We are in some other land. A land that Mr. Van Hove has brilliantly imagined to tell this tragic story where the tension is felt from the very beginning and slowly simmers and escalates to the point of explosion in a cascade of blood showering down at the awesome finale.
Eddie’s seventeen year old orphaned niece Catherine (Phoebe Fox) lives with him and his wife Beatrice (Nicola Walker) a wife whom he has forsaken for the attentions of a blossoming Catherine. When cousins Marco (Michael Zegen) and Rodolpho (Russell Tovey) as illegal immigrants arrive from Italy they are welcomed into the Carbone household.
When Catherine and Rodolpho begin to fall in love, an overprotective and unnaturally jealous Eddie targets him for destruction thinking he only wants to marry Catherine to stay in America.
We know where all this is headed but it is getting there that is so compelling.
Michael Gould is our narrator. A lawyer who has helped Eddie in the past and to whom Eddie seeks advice as to how to handle the situation. He comments on the story and at times is in the story – sometimes with shoes and sometimes barefoot as well.
A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE is a tragic tale and under the astute direction of Mr. Van Hove becomes a timeless and gripping descent into hell.
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