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A CurtainUp London London Review


I'm inclined to see the ruins in things.— Alfieri
A View From the Bridge
Ken Stott as Eddie Carbone
(Photo: Catherine Ashmore)
Maybe the only way to get a good West End run in these dark days of the recession for a straight play, ie. not a musical, is to make sure that it is on the syllabus for school examinations? So we find a revival of Arthur Millerís wonderful play, A View From the Bridge. With the experience of Lindsay Posner and talented actors Ken Stott and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in the lead roles, there is very little that can go wrong (other than schoolgirls texting on their mobile phones, noisy sweet wrappers, chatter and incessant coughing).

Christopher Oramís set is imposing from the first close up view of the corner of the street with its heavy, angular architecture and peeling poster on which Eddie Carbone (Ken Stott) lives to the interior of the shoddy house with slightly awry angles, which Beatrice tries to keep nice but which looks like a palace to Sicilians illegal immigrants Marco (Gerard Monaco) and Rodolpho (Harry Lloyd). Lindsay Posnerís production holds a magnifying glass up to the dysfunctional Carbone family, relying on strong performances but here Eddie Carbone is an isolated figure, head of his own family rather than a member of the wider Italian American community. The lawyer Alfieri, played by Allan Corduner, whose lines are some of the very best of Millerís writing, have the function of a Greek chorus and sets the scene evocatively.

This is Ken Stottís evening as he smoulders away, over—protective of his niece Catherine (Hayley Atwell) so that he neglects his loving wife and interferes tragically with the choice of husband for the girl they have brought up as their daughter. Eddie probably has repressed sexual desire for his niece. Stott shows the New Yorkerís pride but has tears in his eyes when he realizes that Catherine might grow up and away. The schoolgirls in the audience completely ruined the shock of the scene, when an infuriated Eddie kisses Rodolpho on the mouth, by giggling, annoying to both actors and serious members of the audience.

Stottís Carbone is more sympathetic than some I have seen giving the play an interesting balance. Although it is obviously unreasonable to oppose Catherineís growing up, her American citizenship is a commodity which could increase her attraction to expedient men. Stott as the gnarled longshoreman, seethes and sulks like a bear with a sore head, his voice gruff and nasal as his natural Scots merges into New York Brooklynese. Although born in Edinburgh to a Scots father, Ken Stottís looks can be attributed to his Sicilian mother which makes him a shoe in for Eddie Carbone.

Complementing Ken Stott is Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Beatrice, sad and neglected by her husband Eddie. She brings a quiet desperation to their strained relationship in an effective portrayal of a caring wife and surrogate mother to her niece. Hayley Atwell as Catherine is naÔve and slightly boyish rather than the "Madonna" of the text. Harry Lloydís Rodolpho is a flamboyant prat, tall and rangy, that it is hard to imagine who might fall for him. With his clowning ability I predict it wonít be long before he plays Aguecheek. I liked Gerard Monacoís aggrieved Marco betrayed in a breach of the Sicilian code of honour by a jealous, obsessive Carbone turned informer.

The theatre management at the Duke of Yorkís really do have to remind the audience of the kind of behavior expected in the theatre as the teachers were not adopting this role or, if they had, were ignored. Only this could spoil a thoroughly satisfying production of Millerís great play.

A View From the Bridge
Written by Arthur Miller
Directed by Lindsay Posner

Starring: Ken Stott, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Hayley Atwell, Harry Lloyd, Gerard Monaco
With: Antonio Magro, Enzo Squillino Jr, Allan Corduner, John Moraitis, Jonathan Jaynes, Philip Desmeules, Julia Barrie, Peter Basham, Abby Forknall
Design: Christopher Oram
Lighting: Peter Mumford
Composer and Sound: Adam Cork
Running time: Two hours 20 minutes with an interval
Box Office: 0870 060 6623
Booking to 16th May 2009
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 10th February 2009 performance at the Duke of Yorkís, St Martinís Lane, London WC2 (Tube: Leicester Square)

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