This classic Arthur Miller play follows the life of Eddie Carbone, who struggles to adjust when his wife’s cousins arrive from Sicily and cause ripples right through his family. His main struggle is the “loss” off his niece Catherine, who falls in love with one of the cousins, Rodolpho. As Eddie blames one thing after another for his reluctance to give the lovers his blessing, the family start to question his real motives and his feelings towards the niece he raised as a daughter.
The direction from Juliet Forster is incredibly clever and interesting to watch. In this production, Eddie is presented as our lead. No longer an unlikeable antagonist figure who bullishly and aggressively storms his way through life, our Eddie is a loving, confused man who seems haunted by his lack of control over his family’s actions and his own emotions. Nicholas Karimi’s Eddie is complex, well-meaning and misguided, dragged into a world of conflict he doesn’t belong in yet too stubborn to back down from. I side with him. I understand his viewpoints. I find myself too questioning Rodolpho’s motives for marrying Catherine. The positioning of a younger, more relatable Eddie contrasts to previous versions I have seen of a creepy, greying old uncle who’s hellbent on destruction and I like it better. It feels more comfortable, more complex, more to think about. Forster’s retelling of a classic manages to raise new questions out of a much picked-over text. It goes without saying that Nicholas Karimi’s performance is particularly impressive, holding the piece together with a steady grip.
Laura Pyper’s Beatrice is forthright yet understanding, often acting the peacemaker amongst the warring family. Robert Pickavance, too, adds a new dimension to lawyer/narrator Alfieri. His portrayal is almost ethereal, offering pearls of wistful wisdom in a gentle and despairing way, offering the story almost as a fable rather than a warning. I’ve seen Pickavance play several roles before, and yet again he brings a uniqueness to his role.
Reuben Johnson and Pedro Leandro as Marco and Rodolpho respectively both offer great performances. Johnson is strong and sturdy as Marco, contrasting with the effeminate yet likeable Rodolpho. His relationship with Catherine (played well by Lili Miller, though the character feels a little under developed) seems slightly forced, though I’m undecided whether that’s intentional or not.
Generally, the downfall of the cast is their accents. The Brooklyn accent mingling on stage with Italian is a recipe for disaster and many of the main characters’ accents are inconsistent, which breaks the believability of the piece. The stylised touches of direction, such as clever use of light and moments of freezed action work well but there are moments that work less, such as the very opening scene when longshoremen inexplicably unpack the Cabone’s home – a device which is not repeated, does not set up the scene and is inconsistent with the rest of the production’s vibe. Small moments such as Catherine taking a pot out of the oven wearing oven gloves, and moments later bringing it to the table in bare hands seem like easy things to rectify yet very obvious errors that break the audience’s connection with the piece.
The set from Rhys Jarman and lighting from Aideen Malone is simplistic yet effective and allows us to focus on the action, a goldfish bowl of one family’s reality.
Overall, a sublime piece of theatre. Whether you are studying or have ever studied the piece shouldn’t matter – it’s an absolute classic and this production does it justice.
Catch A View From The Bridge at York Theatre Royal until 12th October.
Photograph credited to Ian Hodgson