Seeing a trail of sorrow

bridge cast

A view from the patriarch: Jonathan Guy Lewis (Eddie) James Rastall (Rodolpho), Teresa Banham (Beatrice) Daisy Boulton (Catherine) and Philip Cairns (Marco)

A View from the Bridge

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

*****

THE Bridge in question is the Brooklyn Bridge, by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, embodying the welcome for the ‘Huddled Masses’ and delivering a daily eulogy for the American Dream.

But the bridge also overlooks Red Hook, the poorest neighbourhood in New York, rich in Italians, and crusty with crime; this is the American nightmare, deep in 1930s Depression and blaming illegal immigration for its malaise. Hmmm.

Eddie Carbone (Jonathan Guy Lewis) is second-generation ‘hyphenated’ Italian-American and his wife Beatrice (Teresa Banham) and he, with no children of their own, have taken in her sister’s orphaned daughter Catherine (Daisy Boulton) to raise as their own.

They live in squalor but their big hearts also welcome two Sicilian ‘submarines’, their word for illegal immigrants, Marco (Philip Cairns) and Rudolfo (James Rastall), while they earn enough to fend for themselves.

Marco is strong and married with three children, one of whom is dying of TB. Cathy is pretty and just 17. Rudolfo is smart, blond, unusually handy in the kitchen, at making dresses and sings like a bird. What’s not to like? Eddie, though, sees him differently.

The role of Greek Chorus to this Greek tragedy is given to a lawyer Alfieri (Michael Brandon) to whom Eddie confides his fears about Rudolfo and Cathy’s burgeoning romance. “He’s not right,” is all he can manage.

But Eddie’s deep-seated fears about Rudolfo, as Alfieri tells the audience, will not have a good outcome: Beatrice assumes Eddie  has a misplaced love for Cathy, whom he seeks to control and won’t take advice from anyone about giving her a bit of space to grow and change.

Their relationship and its crisis makes the drama of the piece – Arthur Miller often portrays deeply flawed, real humans in crisis situation and Eddie’s compares with Logan in ‘Death of a Salesman’. The ‘inevitable’ consequences of the flaws and circumstances drive the action to a ‘predetermined’ conclusion. And though the action doesn’t go exactly where I anticipated, it makes difficult watching – if brilliant performance.

This production, directed by Stephen Unwin, is spellbinding and dark but illuminates and instructs on controlling baser instincts, and its one to ponder. To 11-04-15

Jane Howard

08-04-15 

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