BWW Review: A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, Tobacco Factory Theatres
In the corner of a small living room near Brooklyn Bridge, New York, there's an old rocking chair with a threadbare cushion.
In it sits Eddie Carbone, reading the paper. He smells of coffee from the sacks he's been unloading at the docks. A hard-working man providing for his wife Beatrice, and his orphaned niece Catherine who is now a young woman, ready to fly the nest.
Only Eddie isn't quite ready for her to fly the nest.
1950s Brooklyn is a place of community. No more so than amongst the Italian-Americans. There's a new wave of economic migrants from Italy, often there illegally, who pay off the debts of their journey by working on the docks.
Two such men are Beatrice's cousins: Marco (Aaron Anthony) and Rodolpho (Joseph Tweedale). It is their arrival that sets Eddie on his tragic course as Rodolpho takes a shine to Catherine.
Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge is Artistic Director Mike Tweddle's directorial debut in the space. In his hands, he has moulded a riveting family drama that never loses its focus. Tweddle perfectly captures the tension, as the laughs and easiness of the Carbone family give way to more sinister thoughts. It's as if there are storm clouds brewing just over this flat.
Indeed, the culmination of Act 1 produces the finest dramatic moment - an image that will stick in the mind, as Aaron Anthony's previously compliant Marco finally shows his hand.
As our tragic hero, Eddie, Mark Letheren doesn't put a foot wrong. He captures that broad New York feistiness and street smarts as it turns to helplessness. He handles the relationship with niece Catherine well - never overplaying the moments between them.
It will come as no surprise to regular Tobacco Factory Theatre goers that Katy Stephens as Beatrice has turned in another performance of superlative quality. Beatrice knows something isn't right between her husband and her niece - Stephens displays that undercurrent of uneasy knowledge beautifully.
This is a play that can be about so many things. About immigration, about community, about justice, about Miller's own experience, or it can just be a story of a family from Brooklyn. The thing that keeps Miller's play alive is that the family drama works completely on its own. This production wisely lets you discover the play as you wish.
This second outing for the Factory Company in its inaugural season feels altogether more assured than opener Macbeth. If this is to be the standard of work from this company, then its future is very bright indeed.
Photo credit: Mark Dawson Photography