A View from the Bridge

ANNA ISAAC gets gleefully Miller-ed up in a review of A View from the Bridge in the ‘Bridge.

a view from the bridge anna isaac Arthur Miller Corpus Playroom edward rowett emily dance hannah middleton james ellis Lucy Farrett Theatre

Corpus Playroom, 14th – 18th February, 7pm/3pm, £5-6 

Directed by Helena Middleton

[rating: 4/5]

Miller is a good choice of playwright for these straitened times. Perhaps it gives us a sense of the fact that while life’s getting harder economically for us, it still doesn’t bear comparison to the hardship of 1950’s Brooklyn and post-war Europe. Helena Middleton should be proud of her solo-directing debut in Cambridge.

It’s an irony of reviewing that often when you see a really great performance it is hard to comment upon it. James Ellis played an Eddie that was exactly what it should be: a part that makes the audience as desperately uncomfortable as he does the other characters. The increased hunching of his shoulders throughout the show, echoing the sadness of futile and distorted masculinity that Miller writes so well, is just one example of Ellis’s subtle and fine work here.

Photos by Sana Ayub

Lucy Farrett made a fantastic Catherine, managing to develop from little girl to brittle-edged woman consistently. It is very challenging to bring out the harder and more womanly aspects of Catherine’s character. Farrett managed this while maintaining the paedophilic tension between her and Eddie to great effect, veering from keen-to-please to a glassy, broken hatred for him.

Some actors are gifted with a voice that is extraordinary and Edward Rowett – as Alfieri – is one of them. Thankfully he didn’t rely on it – his pacing and laconic expressions gave a strong sense of dramatic irony and tragedy throughout. It was a ‘complete’ character that moved gracefully into and out of the domestic drama. Emily Dance as Beatrice was also impressive, her poise painfully hard to watch in its contrast to Eddie’s increasingly frenetic jittering.

Throughout the show there is a cloud of witnesses fringing the stage. I felt they were effective, but underused. They marked both the claustrophobia of the domestic life, the importance of the social respect of the neighbourhood, and the tragically passive nature of society.

A more imaginative engagement with what was supposed to be a ‘physical ensemble’ would have been exciting. It’s sad that a poor window and doorframe was what marked the inside versus out, when you have a cast with great physicality. I’m afraid I thought the frames looked fake, and felt fake, and I could see no reason why that should be a deliberate decision. Why did they need to be there? Doesn’t the action itself define indoor from out? It was very disappointing to find clunky and ugly objects cluttering up an otherwise very strong and well thought out production.

I would tell you to go and buy a ticket for this show, but other than a handful that go on sale at midday each day you’ll struggle. After seeing it, I can say that the remarkable sales are well-deserved. It’s an impressive performance.