Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge isn’t quite as well known as his three most famous and studied masterpieces — Death of a Salesman, The Crucible and All My Sons — but there’s been significant renewed interest in the play in recent years.
A well-received Broadway revival opened in 2010 starring Scarlett Johansson and Liev Schreiber, and a stripped-back 2014 production by Ivo van Hove set London theatre alight before transferring to Broadway in 2015.
This new production to open at Sydney’s Old Fitz Theatre is even more stripped back than Van Hove’s, playing out on a bare wooden stage with audience members on all sides. Director Iain Sinclair has brought together an excellent cast of actors who cut right to the core of the play’s drama as it hurtles toward its tragic conclusion.
Much like All My Sons, it takes elements of Greek tragedy and injects them into a corner of contemporary America; the play feels, in many ways, like the bleaker and more intimate cousin of All My Sons.
While All My Sons explores big moral questions about complicity on a large scale — one man’s actions result in the deaths of many men at war — A View from the Bridge is concerned almost entirely with the group of people living their lives in a small apartment block in the poor Brooklyn community of Red Hook.
That’s not to say the play isn’t packed full of resonances: it touches on the immigrant experience, questions about the consequences of small actions, and male sexual aggression and possessiveness.
Eddie Carbone (Ivan Donato) is a second-generation Italian-American working at the docks and living with his wife Beatrice (Janine Watson) and teenage niece Catherine (Zoe Terakes). Eddie and Beatrice have been caring for Catherine since her mother died, but along the way, Eddie’s affections for Catherine have morphed into something more serious and less appropriate.
Into this picture enter Beatrice’s cousins Marco (David Soncin) and Rodolpho (Lincoln Younes), two illegal immigrants hoping to make enough money by working in New York to support their families back home.
These are the type of people we might today callously refer to as “economic refugees”, but the reality is there’s no work in Italy, and Marco’s children are starving back home. They won’t be killed by a violent war, but they probably will be by poverty if they can’t work something out.
But a romantic spark quickly develops between Rodolpho and Catherine, causing rifts among the family and pushes Eddie to breaking point.
Donato brings fire and fury to the stage as Eddie, in a spectacular performance that’s single-minded and driven by absolute obsession. Terakes makes an extraordinary stage debut as the young Catherine, more than holding her own against a cast made up of some very experienced actors, and Janine Watson provides the play with its anchor as Beatrice.
David Lynch is superb in his narrator/chorus role as lawyer Alfieri, and David Soncin and Lincoln Younes find a wonderful dynamic together as the two cousins: Soncin with a steely seriousness and Younes full of light and enthusiasm.
Sinclair and his actors work brilliantly in the challenging in-the-round space, and Clemence Williams’ subtle sound design gives the play an occasional push of tension when necessary.
At the time of this review, there are only a few performances with tickets still available. You should do whatever you can to snap those last few tickets up: this is a wonderful modern classic performed with an integrity and passion that brings it screaming into the present.