Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

A View from the Bridge

Clwyd Theatre Cymru , Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea , November-13-03
Clwyd Theatr Cymru's productions in recent years have tended to be works with a timeless and resonant quality which transcend their origins, addressing the conscience, emotions and intellect of the audience in a manner which is extraordinarily powerful.

Quite whether this production of Arthur Miller's classic postwar study of angst and alienation on the New York waterfront works on this level is debatable: I would argue that for all its supposedly timely content - emphasised in Elaine Peake's desperately "relevant" and topically slanted programme notes - A View from the Bridge should be seen and enjoyed purely as a product of its time.

The ten-strong cast deliver the goods with all the verve, passion and conviction that one has come to expect from this company:

Stephen Marzella is especially fine as the troubled central character Eddie Carbone, while Sharon Eckman and Rosanna Lavelle fly the flag for the distaff side - no mean feat in view of the fact that their respective characters are little more than stereotypical 1950s females who speak in peculiarly coy and mealy-mouthed terms("When am I gonna be a wife again?" pleads Eckman's character Beatrice at one point, and we all know exactly what she is asking of her husband).

The problem is that the story itself, for all its supposed allusions to the problems of asylum seekers and issues such as xenophobia, homophobia and incest, has dated quite badly - and there is even a sense in which the characterisations of the two illegal immigrants, Marco and Rodolpho, add fuel to the flames(the Italian accents are straight out of a 1950s Warner Bros cartoon comedy, an embarrassment compounded on the opening night by the fact that an Italian steward was on duty in the auditorium).

For all that, this is a robust if somewhat stilted and disappointingly "stagey" production of a piece which addresses the trauma and ultimate futility of uncontrollable, obsessive and wholly inappropriate love in a measured and intelligent way. Seen as a time capsule of a world which no longer exists, this is hugely compelling and captivating stuff - it is only when one attempts to load it down with post-9/11 posturing and baggage about relevance to today's society that one begins to stray too far from the point.

Reviewed by: Graham Williams

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