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View from the Bridge review, Royal Exchange

Nicola Mostyn enjoys an intense story of love and denial

Written by . Published on May 26th 2011.

View from the Bridge review, Royal Exchange

EDDIE (Con O'Neill) is a longshoremen in Brooklyn, a rough, kind, hard-working man, who lives with his wife, Beatrice (Anna Francolini) and her young sister, Katherine (Leila Mimmack) who he has raised from her being a child.

The light comedy that arises from the well-worn family banter, and from the new visitors' strangeness, slips, insidiously, into something darker as the play progresses. 

It's a tough life, but a happy one.

That is until Eddie invites two relatives, illegal immigrants, Marco (Nitzan Sharron) and Rodolpho (Ronan Rafferty) to stay at his home while they find work on the docks. When Katie meets the sweet, handsome Rodolfo, and drifts from Eddie's protective circle of care, something destructive begins to emerge from the heart of family life. 

Apparently, in researching this play Miller ate drank and queued with the men on the docks in Brooklyn and it's this absolute essence of the world and its people – expertly evoked by director Sarah Frankcom and a very charismatic cast - that make this production so gripping from the start. 

In A View From the Bridge, Miller explores the other life that existed in Brooklyn in the 1950s, a waterfront world, with its own codes and loyalties. A lesser known work than Miller's Crucible and Death of a Salesmen, this is a gem, short at less than two hours, but dense with its themes of truth, denial and desire. 

Counting all the Longshoremen, A View From the Bridge seems to boast a large cast but in fact, there are just six central roles, an intimacy necessary to convey a story that is domestic in its setting but far reaching in its emotional power.

Con O'Neill is instantly mesmerising as the earthy docker whose reputation he counts amongst his most important possessions. O'Neill has an incredibly interesting face and a captivating delivery – any less than all the qualities O'Neill brings to this role and the play could have faltered, the balance of sympathy tipping– but the actor's grasp of this role is the power at the heart of this intense production. 

O'Neill is well matched by Anna Francolini who no-nonsense Brooklyn wife, Beatrice, comes over as a layered character.

The same goes for Leila Mimmack as Catherine, who doesn't quite nail that accent, but whose character is skilfully developed in the second act as she conveys a girl caught between the roles of woman and child. 

And Nitzan Sharron is a sleeping tiger as Marco, Rodolfo's brother, whose own code of honour dictates his dramatic actions.

%28l-r%29 Con O'Neill as Eddie Carbone, Leila Mimmack as Catherine and Anna Francolini as Beatrice in A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE %28Photo -.jpgThe light comedy that arises from the well-worn family banter, and from the new visitors' strangeness, slips, insidiously, into something darker as the play progresses. Motivations are as subtle and as unclear to the audience as they are to the characters themsleves – particularly those of Eddie.

Here, the production really succeeds – as lawyer, Alfieri (Ian Redford) narrates and foreshadows what is to come like a member of a Greek chorus, the play takes on the inevitability of a classical Tragedy, with the audience as moved as they are appalled by Eddie's terrible humanity.

What happens when a man is “purely himself”, when he is “wholly known” Alfieri asks? Something incredibly compelling, that's what.

See A View From the Bridge and find out for yourself.

A View from the Bridge, Royal Exchange, until June 25. The excellent photos here are by Jonathan Keenan.

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9 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Hilary PetersMay 26th 2011.

Excellent production. Is the Royal Exchange better than it's been in many year at present? I think so.

IshieMay 31st 2011.

Brilliant, I loved it, moving and finely performed. And yes the Royal Exchange is better at present then it's been for a while Hilary..

AnonymousMay 31st 2011.

Is this the sequel to Miller's masterpiece - A View From THE Bridge? EDITORIAL COMMENT - ANON, changed in the title now, it was correct in all the copy. Thanks

tblzebraMay 31st 2011.

Loved it, amazing, but struggled to work out what Catherine was saying, especially in the first half hour. Terrible accent.

Blue PeterJune 4th 2011.

Incredibly powerful stuff performed by a uniformly brilliant cast. Had the pleasure of seeing this production yesterday evening and was blown away by it. A little churlish though to single out Leila Mimmacks's accent as that of Ian Redford's playing the lawyer bore no more than a hint of Brooklyn. Either way it didn't matter. Highly recommended.

tblzebraJune 4th 2011.

Ah but BP, I could understand him, but she was indecipherable at times - did you read my post properly? Not good for understanding what's going on, don'tcha think?

Blue PeterJune 4th 2011.

No need to take it personally Zebra. I found the accent perfectly understandable. Just felt Ian Redford's lacked authenticity.

tblzebraJune 4th 2011.

Eh? I merely responded to your comment that is was a little churlish of me, and that it didn't matter.

On the night I attended the four people in my group couldn't work out what she said at times. But perhaps we're all either deaf or stupid, or perhaps both, as you could understand her.

Or maybe someone had a word and she's improved?

AnonymousJuly 14th 2011.

where does it say in the script that alfieri lived in brooklyn or indeed was brought up there.In fact his whole part is about how apart he was from the longshoremen and to say that he lacked authenticity meaning his accent or performance

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