BWW REVIEW: A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE Is A Window Into A Not So Distant Past And Some Unfortunately Still Current Ideas
Friday 20th October 2017, 8:15pm, Old Fitz Theatre Woolloomooloo
Arthur Miller's award winning play A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE is presented with confronting intimacy as honour and respect comes up against lust and jealousy in a display of misguided justice as cultures collide. Director Iain Sinclair presents a raw, stripped back interpretation of the work that first premiered on Broadway in 1956 but still holds a relevance in 21st century Australia.
Presented 'in-the-round' of sorts on Jonathan Hindmarsh's simple wood floor cross stage, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE is a recount of an odd case that Italian-American lawyer Alfieri (David Lynch) has been presented with. After acquainting the audience with the history Red Hook Brooklyn and its inhabitants, second generation migrants from Sicily, he likens the story he is about tell as being akin to the days of Ancient Rome when justice was viewed all or nothing, not the "settle for half" modern philosophy that governed most of his cases. Flashes of Alfieri's client Eddie Carbone's (Ivan Donato) case plays out with characters that emerge from the audience to re-live the events that see Eddie try to retain authority over his wife Beatrice (Janine Watson) and orphaned niece Catherine (Zoe Terakes). The balance of the household structure has changed as Catherine, who has always had a special bond with Eddie, takes a liking to Beatrice's cousin Rodolpho (Lincoln Younes) who has come with his brother Marco (David Soncin) to work illegally as there is no work back in Italy.
Sinclair's interpretation is character driven as Hindmarsh's set has a single prop of a wooden chair. The era of the 1950's is reinforced by Martelle Hunt's costume design which uses Catherine's new dress and Beatrice's blouse and skirt to represent the fashion of post war America. Eddie, Marco and Rodolpho are dressed to represent the blue collar dockside work with Eddie presented as even more casual than the newcomers in his grey undershirt whilst the illegals opt for button down shirts. Matt Cox's lighting adds drama as it takes the work through different times of day and also allowing Eddie's cowardly betrayal to unfold in darkness . Cox also helps Sinclair bring the audience in to feel a closer connection than simply observing by having the lighting creep into the audience.
Whilst the audience first meets Eddie as he takes a protective tone with his assessment of Catherine's new dress, Ivan Donato ensure that the audience knows not to fully trust the uncle that has an unusual control over his 17 year old niece. Donato presents Eddie's prejudice with the inexplicable fear of the unknown that seeks to pigeon hole Rodolpho's behaviour that doesn't fit with the stereotypical dockworkers that he is used to and helps drive him to trying to seek legal support to stop the young man's romance with his niece. He allows the growth of Eddie's paranoia, hate and spitefulness show with the characteristic fire and demonstrates that the husband and father figure still retains a mindset where the man of the house must be respected and obeyed.
As Catherine, newcomer Zoe Terakes captures the exuberance of youth and the desire to please the uncle she has come to care for after her mother's passing left her in Eddie and Beatrice's care. Terakes expresses the 17 year old's growth with the discovery and innocence of one wanting to try new things but having lived a sheltered life, having been restricted from socialising by the overprotective Eddie whilst her blood relative Beatrice supports her desire to take the job she has been offered prior to graduating secretarial school and gain some independence. She demonstrates that the teenager is torn between loyalty to her uncle who has cared and provided for her and the blossoming love for Rodolpho, growing up as the story unfolds and eventually standing up to the irrational and inappropriate Eddie.
Janine Watson expresses the wife who has realised that she is married to a man who's interests have strayed and presents Beatrice as the peacemaker who tries everything she can to regain her marriage and retain her niece's safety and happiness. Watson demonstrates Beatrice's sense of family honour that sees her fight to have Eddie allow her cousins to seek refuge in their home, an apparently common practice amongst the American Italian community which harboured illegal immigrants from Italy, whilst also presenting the wife as somewhat submissive.
As the younger brother who seeks a new life in America, never wanting to return to Italy, Lincoln Younes presents Rodolpho as a gentler more cultured character which threatens the simple and uncouth Eddie. Rodolpho's joy at being in America and planning a new life with Catherine is contrasted by David Soncin's portrayal of the homesick Marco who is sending money back to a wife and children that he misses and intends to return to after a few years earning money in America. Soncin presents the older brother as quiet and brooding but similar to Eddie in believing in saving face and repaying wrongs.
As the latest in Red Line Production's season of Unspoken stories, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE considers physical and metaphorical bridges as looks back from the 21st century to the mid 20th century, compares cultures from an old world Italy to a modern America (and Australia), and looks into a society that physically sat on the otherside of the Brooklyn Bridge, away from the 'new world' of Manhattan. A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE is confronting and engaging as it challenges the understanding of right and wrong as it shows the new world settling for half and compromising is better than holding doggedly to the notion that only one person can win as that quest for absolute justice can backfire. Gripping and compelling, a definite edge of your seat experience.
Old Fitz Theatre
18 October - 25th November 2017