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Family's emotional tug o' war

PUBLISHED: 13:20 04 March 2009 | UPDATED: 17:16 16 August 2010

AFFECTIONATE: from left, Hayley Atwell, Ken Stott, Harry Lloyd and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Picture: Catherine Ashmore

AFFECTIONATE: from left, Hayley Atwell, Ken Stott, Harry Lloyd and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Picture: Catherine Ashmore

AT the time that Arthur Miller was developing A View from the Bridge for the London stage, his political and personal life were being scrutinised, writes Kate Mead. He was called in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee for his supposed Com

AT the time that Arthur Miller was developing A View from the Bridge for the London stage, his political and personal life were being scrutinised, writes Kate Mead.

He was called in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee for his supposed Communist leanings just as he had become passionately involved with one of the most famous actresses in the world, Marilyn Monroe.

It was perhaps his own battle between personal desire and public duty that sparked the creation of his tragi-hero, Eddie Carbone, in this fascinating play, now showing at the Duke of York's Theatre, London.

With a nod to the Greeks, the play, set in 1950s Brooklyn, charts the inevitable demise of Carbone, narrated by lawyer Alfieri.

When the dockworker agrees to protect his wife's Italian cousins from the immigration authorities, his relationship with his niece Catherine begins to fragment when she falls for one of them.

As with Miller's other popular play, The Crucible, suspicion and doubt arise from what is not said - does Carbone harbour inappropriate feelings for Catherine or is he just an overprotective father-figure eaten up by misplaced duty and fear?

In Lindsay Posner's production, it seems that he has opted for the former theory with Ken Stott's Carbone getting more and more eaten up by jealousy as the romance between "Catie" (Hayley Atwell) and Rodolpho (Harry Lloyd) flourishes.

Though ham-fisted (and improper) in his affection, Stott plays the character with enormous sensitivity and humour, eliciting the kind of pathos Miller would have wanted from his modern-day Greek tragedy. Atwell's Catherine is on the verge of womanhood but naïve enough to throw herself at her surrogate father in girlish affection.

This, twinned with the emotional tug o' war between Carbone and his shunned wife Beatrice (an astonishing performance by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), makes for uncomfortable viewing - in a good way.

As Carbone's insistence that Rodolpho is "not right" intensifies, the tension builds to an inevitable heartbreaking conclusion of deceit and shame.

A wonderful, emotionally-charged performance that is homage to one of America's greatest playwrights, who put truth and love before his own reputation.

A View from the Bridge is at the Duke of York's Theatre, St Martin's Lane, until May 16. Tickets are £21 to £66. Call the box office on 0870 060 6644.

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