There is no escaping the sense of foreboding that permeates Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge. Currently being revived at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal by the Touring Consortium Theatre Company, this production brilliantly evokes the dark side of the American Dream, as well as the complex relationships and moral uncertainty which characterise Miller’s work.
It is set in the claustrophobic apartment of longshoreman Eddie Carbone and his wife Beatrice in 1950s Brooklyn. Eddie is fiercely protective of his 17-year-old niece, Catherine, who lives with them after being orphaned. He lives by his own rigid moral code, working hard on the docks to provide for Beatrice and Catherine and demanding respect from those around him.
But the fragile family dynamics begin to falter when Beatrice’s cousins, Marco and Rodolpho, come to stay. The brothers are illegal immigrants who have left Italy to escape poverty – and while Eddie warms to the strong yet morally-upstanding Marco, he cannot hide his dislike for Rodolpho who he sees as frivolous and effeminate. It’s not long before Rodolpho and Catherine form a close bond, which angers Eddie, particularly when the other dockers insinuate that Rodolpho may be gay.
Believing that Rodolpho is only interested in marrying Catherine so he can gain citizenship, Eddie sets about trying to destroy their relationship. He seeks advice from the lawyer – who acts as a narrator detached from the action – but he can find no guidance from him. Eventually, his misplaced desire to protect his niece leaves him consumed by rage and ready to commit abhorrent acts.
This production is infused with the social realism that is characteristic of Miller’s work and echoes his earlier play, Death of a Salesman, which also tells the semi-tragic tale of the demise of a lowly worker. The dialogue is well executed by all the cast members and the performance is paced perfectly as it winds its way towards a dramatic ending. The grimy-looking apartment block provides a fitting backdrop to the murkiness of this world, which is riddled with crime and desperation as the new-comers realise life in New York is not what they expected it to be.
A View from the Bridge is on at the Theatre Royal until Saturday. Visit the website for further details.