A View from the Bridge at the Wyndham’s
Arthur Miller’s profound writing is thrown into sharp relief thanks to minimalist staging in Young Vic’s production of A View from the Bridge, now at Wyndham’s Theatre. It’s the tale of longshoreman Eddie Carbone, whose love for the niece he has raised proves increasingly unsettling. When an Italian immigrant wins her heart, Eddie will stop at nothing to keep them apart.
The brilliance of the script is the way the tragic ending is clear from the get-go; it’s like watching a boulder gather momentum down a mountain. You note the seed of disaster, and later pinpoint the milestones marked as one opportunity after another to defy the wretched finale is foiled.
Director Ivo Van Hove ensures the tension is held on a tight leash, then released in explosive pockets. He plays with time and distance, drawing them out then squeezing them like a concertina. A strained conversation is played out with long gaps between lines; a drumbeat marks the seconds as anxious moments pass; there is sudden acceleration as Eddie berates Rudolpho for a perceived insult. The physical distance between Eddie’s wife Beatrice and Catherine, as the former tries to open the latter’s eyes, signifies the repelling nature of their subtext.
Mark Strong is a fantastic Eddie, a man who steadfastly believes in his own good conscience yet stubbornly refuses to see the content of his own heart. Strong expertly induces from his audience fondness, pity and exasperation as well as disgust. As he increasingly isolates himself, we wonder at what point, if any, will he stop lying to himself. Phoebe Fox, meanwhile, gives a warm and engrossing performance as a young Catherine brimming with uninhibited youth and personality.
Wyndham’s doesn’t allow for as intimate a setting as Young Vic, though they’ve tried to make it so by adding more seating in the wings of the stage. Nevertheless, claustrophobia saturates the space. The low glass walls that cage the action call to mind a soundproof box through which Eddie cannot be reached, immune as he is to reason. Other abstract touches include a torrent of blood that rains down upon the doomed characters, visceral and inescapable.
It is impossible not to be moved by this brutal, tortured imagining of a classic play. Strong looks solemn and emotionally spent as he takes his final bow – and no wonder.
A View from the Bridge is on at Wyndham’s Theatre until 11th April 2015, for further information or to book visit here.