Preview: ‘A View From the Bridge’

As UCLU Drama Society takes on one of Arthur Miller’s best known plays, the team behind the show takes time out to chat to The Tab

Arthur Miller. The most celebrated American playwright of the twentieth century? More so than Tennessee Williams Producer Charlie Weedon thinks so. Why? Not only are his plays performed all over the world in some of the finest theatres, but ‘being married to Marilyn Monroe, that has to give him a bit of celebrity status!’

Set in a 1950s Italian-American neighbourhood near Brooklyn Bridge, Arthur Miller’s classic play is brought to life by the University College London’s extremely talented Drama Society. The play tells the story of Eddie, who grows obsessive and over-protective of his niece. When she falls in love with an Italian illegal immigrant that Eddie’s family is sheltering, a jealous Eddie has a crisis of confidence which has dangerous consequences: should he let his niece marry Rodolfo, or turn him over to the immigration bureau?

A striking feature of this production is the way the staging has been designed, with the creative team opting for a thrust stage which allows for the audience to sit on three sides. Director Nicholas Flooks explained his decision. ‘The use of thrust is really because wanted to make it so the audience becomes part of the scene, part of the crowd judging Eddie…they’ll feel as if they are a part of the action’. A key element of the story is Eddie’s paranoia and this staging is sure to help this feeling reach the audience and engage them in Miller’s wonderful plot.

Another novel interpretation of the play comes from Assistant Director Tirion Jenkins, who was in charge of costume design. Much of clothing comes from her own wardrobe and those of the cast members to keep the show low-budget. Her interpretation of the time period is intriguing, ‘my vision for the costumes was…well when you imagine the time period of the piece you think of black and white images, so I wanted to create a washed out palette of colours…and the Italians are in more of an earthy colour as they are bringing their life from the countryside to America’. A colour scheme befitting of the storyline, but have no fear readers, as there will still be some element of vibrancy and colour, ‘as Catherine is exposed to more sexual experiences she acquires more red in her costume’…saucy.

Chatting to the cast, there seems to be a calmness and refreshing modesty to them. When asked about how rehearsals were going, one thing was thoroughly agreed on: it’s been an emotionally intense experience. Marina Hopkins who plays Eddie’s niece Catherine confessed that ‘at the end of every rehearsal you feel exhausted…you feel you get a lot out of it though’. On a lighter note, Melissa Taylor who plays Beatrice in the play told us of the funnier side to rehearsals, ‘there’s been a lot of banter. The cast is quite boy-heavy so there have been a lot of hilarious boy jokes’ she revealed with just the slightest hint of irony. Adam Pabani is relishing his role as protagonist Eddie after performing in the highly emotional and successful Good in term one. ‘After Good it’s a nice change to have a role which all the action revolves around. It’s challenging but an enjoyable experience’. The cast seem to be enjoying themselves and the direction they’re receiving, and showed The Tab their playful sides, sharing jokes about innuendos in the script and doing impressions of Robert De Nero!

All joking aside, what you really want to know is why should you go and see the show? ‘Because it’s a classic play, but you’ll never have seen it done like this before’ says Charlie, to which Nicholas adds ‘we’re trying to question the assumed presentation of ‘A View From the Bridge and challenge people’s perspective of Eddie’s tragedy’.

Whether you’re a lover of Arthur Miller or not, nearly all of us have come across this or another of his works, and it seems to us at The Tab that this production might well showcase a refreshing take on a theatre favourite.

‘A View From the Bridge’ is being performed by UCLU Drama Society at the Garage Theatre Workshop from the 31st January to the 2nd February. Performances start at 7.30pm, doors open at 7pm. Entrance £3. Arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Cast & Crew:

Director: Nicholas Flooks
Producer: Charlie George Weedon
Assistant Director: Tirion Jenkins
Assistant Producer: Jasper Bartlett
Production Manager: William Otterburn

Eddie: Adam Pabani
Beatrice: Melissa Taylor
Catherine: Marina Hopkins
Alfieri: Rob Thompson
Rodolfo: Caspar Cech-Lucas
Marco: Guido Cavaciuti
Louis: Karan Gill
Mike: Pavlos Christodoulou
First Officer: Ben Blackburn
Second Officer: Avy Tennison
Tony: Will Jacobs
Mrs. Lipari: Bronte Charles