Tuesday, July 16

A View From The Bridge – Theatre Royal Haymarket

Arthur Miller’s encapsulating tragedy of the 1950s stands the test of time. This production remains faithful to Miller’s story centred on an American-Italian family, which brews themes of blood, honour, love and instinct, to ultimately boil beneath the skin of the law and authorities. Eddie, our protagonist, beholds a tangled idea of himself as his niece Kathryn’s father-lover. Throughout the course of the action, he pursues what he believes to be just for his niece. It is in this warped sense of justice that Eddie’s anger and self-martyrisation become wrapped up in his ideals of nationalism, patriarchy, and a fostered fatherhood.

The set was comprised of contemporary facades of buildings, perhaps emphasising the protective walls between the immigrant family members and authority, and eventually the walls of mistrust between all of the characters. The fixity of the set allowed for new environments to be deftly conveyed by Paul Pyant’s lighting design. These haunted corridors of light offered neat elisions between scenes, but also formed lit pathways which perhaps forebode Eddie’s deterministic journey towards his fated end.

Overall, this production formed a landscape painting of fine acting, albeit featuring occasional accent slippages. Kate Fleetwood captures the wrought anxiety of Beatrice, her pressing concerns buttressing against Eddie’s hardened shell. Moreover, Callum Scott Howells grasped the double essence of Rodolfo: a young cheeky chappy, possessing a sort of Ken-doll attitude towards pleasing Kathryn, who later evolves into a more serious and frustrated man. The stand-out performance, however, was Dominic West’s portrayal of Eddie. West magnificently evokes within the audience those strange tugs of empathy towards our tragic hero, despite Eddie’s misogynistic micromanagement of his niece.  

Of course, this was all brilliantly executed by Lindsay Posner’s direction. The knots of tension embedded in each line is masterfully drawn out to raise the temperature of the action, whilst well-punctuated dialogue to bring out both verbal and physical comedy, often between Eddie and the lawyer as well as the two Italian brothers. These moments of relief were gladly received by the audience, given the strong themes of emotional manipulation and incestuous romantic love. It is worth bearing in mind the audience’s visceral reaction to Eddie’s shocking kiss of Kathryn in the second act: a coherent wave of human bodies pressed back against the Haymarket’s blue seats in utter shock.

The quasi-biblical image of the stabbed Eddie, propped up by his wife and his niece in the closing moments of the play, is as striking as ever. However, it left me wondering if the piece could have taken more artistic risks. It was ideal viewing for a GCSE group studying the text, but I was clamouring out for the potent themes to be explored through bigger and bolder creative means. Given the play’s historically proven success, you might have thought this was on the cards in 2024.

Playing until 3rd August,  https://trh.co.uk/whatson/a-view-from-the-bridge/

Reviewer: Eleanor Hall

Reviewed: 4th June 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.