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A View from the Bridge: A British Import Vies for Best Drama Revival

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 15/11/2015 Regina Weinreich

The stage at the Lyceum Theater for this exceptional theater event, the current revival of Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge looks like a set for a boxing match, with audience on three sides, not the more traditional sitting room of a Brooklyn apartment. Director Ivo van Hove's vision goes for the iconic: a fight ring, a stand-in for a battle of emotion. Unlike a previous New York revival where an actual bridge looked to the joining of boroughs, in this production's abstract conception, the bridge, a device for transitions may refer to coming to America, old school mores versus new, life and death. The bridge may be the play's trans-Atlantic journey from London's Young Vic production to these shores. Most powerfully, here invisible, the bridge is yours to imagine.
Stripped raw, Arthur Miller's tragedy in Red Hook underscores the physical in this survival story, even as death is the body's ultimate defeat. Opening with two male figures washing themselves down after a day's work, and continuing to something primitive and taboo: Eddie Carbone and his ward Catherine, his sister's daughter in his charge. She climbs his body with juvenile glee and clenched thighs, and his sinewy body wraps itself around her, enjoying that. It's more than sex; it's inchoate yearning, primal, and devastating.

Eddie (an outstanding Mark Strong) and Beatrice (Nicola Walker) welcome her two cousins from Italy, Marco (Michael Zegen) and Rodolpho (Russell Tovey). Illegal, they want to make a new life in the new world. Marco has a wife and 3 kids back home, and Rodolpho, young and idealistic, is available for Catherine (Phoebe Fox). Because Eddie is so strict with her, she has not met other men. They plan to marry, the better to aid in Rodolpho becoming a citizen. A convenience, or true love match, Eddie won't have it.
Ruler of the roost, a headstrong Creon, Eddie's unable to yield control. This anguish is related by Alfieri (Michael Gould), a lawyer, a Greek chorus of a figure who narrates, advises, judges in fact referees, as if he were a Sophoclean creation in modern dress. The ensuing blood-letting eclipses any I have ever witnessed on a theater stage. An eyeful, yes, but days later, the sound of this play (Tom Gibbons' creation), a nail-biting rhythmic pulse like water dripping still overwhelms with menace, a memory in my bones.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.

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