Review: A View from the Bridge

Harriet Willmoth 22 January 2020

Seb Brindle’s production of A View from the Bridge does not shy away from impact. Set in 1950s Brooklyn, this tragedy focuses on Eddie Carbone as he grapples with the arrival of two Italian illegal immigrants into his increasingly dysfunctional family.

William Batty, as Eddie, shone in this role. His characterisation was consistently excellent, giving a believable, emotional, expert performance throughout; Batty exuded Eddie totally. His control of intensity was electric, and gave the character a real sense of power, even in silence. The only potential issue was that the script implies one should feel some sort of sympathy for this ‘tragic hero’, which did not really come across. However, this may have been a deliberate choice.

Image credit: Gabriel Humphreys

Clara Morel, playing Beatrice, was similarly phenomenal. She encapsulated the tragedy of her character beautifully, with a real vulnerability to her voice, and every micro-expression adding extra depth to what was a really impressive performance. Although I would have liked her character to have a few more moments of reduced intensity, particularly at the beginning, in order to give more impact to her crescendos of despair, she was outstanding overall.

Image credit: Gabriel Humphreys

The other actors generally gave good performances. Katie Chambers, playing Catherine, showed real promise, her performance especially convincing during scenes with Batty and Morel. The narrator was generally very good, if a little too formal, while Matthew Paul as Rodolpho was hilarious as a lovable fool, struggling only slightly when scenes called for more emotional depth.

One unfortunate flaw to this production was the inconsistency of characters’ accents. Some accents were very deliberately northern, some sounded glaringly posh, and most merely slipped in and out of various dialects.

Image credit: David Swarbrick

The director clearly had some exciting ideas when approaching the non-naturalistic elements to this production. Choosing to incorporate a drum into the staging was certainly interesting, and, when used, it was very effective. It was a powerful accent to scenes of prolonged intensity, and I would have loved to have seen it more. As for the lighting, very stark transitions between brutal white, moody warmth, and occasional bursts of mysterious teal worked well, but more could have been done to give Act Two better visual variation. The set was as creative as one would expect from a production of this calibre. However, some non-naturalistic elements were less effective: the characters Catherine and Rodolpho shared a movement sequence which felt a bit half-hearted and superfluous, for example.

Nevertheless, this was a powerful story told well, with some truly brilliant acting. Some moments could have been professional: dialogue was believable, tense pauses held a profundity that was seriously impressive, and emotional climaxes were utterly heart-wrenching. I would recommend this to anyone with a penchant for intensity.

4 stars.