Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Torn apart by deceit

A View From The Bridge

Jenny king for the Touring Consortium , New Theatre, Cardiff , October 1, 2002
Set in an era when immigration to ‘the land of the free’ was prevalent, the values of the community became laws unto themselves, and loyalty to the family was more important to than the law of the land, large immigrant communities that were illegally staying in the country were protected by the companies they worked for, in return for a piece of their already pittance wages. Like Marco (Matthew Flynn) and Rudolpho (Tadeusz Pasternak), many stayed with relatives whilst starting a new life for themselves, with the added protection of loyal communities whose penalties for betrayal were much more severe than those of the law.

Like many of Miller’s plays, ‘A view From the Bridge’ depicts how a family is torn apart as a result of false ideology and deceit. As in Greek Tragedies, there are a number of devices presented to accomplish the overall themes that the author intended; from the Protagonist, i.e. Eddie (Robert Gwilym); to the Catalyst, i.e. Rodolpho who causes the situation to climax. However, as the characters are solely devices in Miller’s tragedy, it is therefore the responsibility of the cast to give these characters a personality for a contemporary audience to relate to.

The first half of the performance introduced us to Eddie and his almost ‘normal’ family home. His niece Katherine (Katherine Holme) who lives with them, he treats as if it were his own daughter and although there may be hints at a not-so-perfect marriage between himself and his wife Beatrice (Sorcha Cussack), they seem satisfied. The actors worked together agreeably to create the foundations for an interesting dynamic piece of theatre with many levels of interpretation – exactly what Miller had intended. However, in the second half the personality seemed to fade away as the actors concentrated on creating inner conflict for their characters, forgetting the need for actual feelings to truly demonstrate their plight. The actions almost became mechanical responses, which created a barrier between the audience and the characters, leaving them unable to truly empathise with the sinister themes and conflicts within the play.

The play did provoke thought, as the true intentions of both Eddie and Rodolpho were never completely made clear. The audience are left to make up their minds purely on what other characters have revealed, along with the help of the narrator Alfieri (Benny Young). The ambiguity of this performance was the element that will be remembered as one left as confused as many of the characters – not certain that Eddie is the only blameworthy piece of the tragedy.

Reviewed by: Victoria Cooper

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