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“It kept me hooked right until the final denouement”

Harry Hatwell applauds Playlliol's rendition of 'A View from the Bridge'

Directed by Isabel Ion and Alice Camilleri, this production of A View from the Bridge has a rather dark feel to it, as the lighting focuses the audience’s attention to a very small area in the centre of the thrust stage at the Pilch. This insular and quite claustrophobic staging suits View well but does throw up some problems.

Miller’s masterpiece focusses on the life of Eddie Carbone (played by an outstanding Hasan Al-Habib), a labourer in an Italian immigrant family who seeks to save face at all cost. In the end, his self-pride and his desire not be emasculated by Rodolpho (John Maier), the man pursuing his niece, Catherine (Emma Howlett), lead to tragic consequences. The play turns around a small but heated familial dispute, which further adds to the uncomfortable atmosphere and tension which rises through the play as the conflict between the male characters becomes more fraught.

The narration, performed by Alfieri (Jordan Charlesworth) offers a birds-eye view of the plot and helps the audience to connect with the characters on a deeper, more familial level, in-keeping with the Greek style which Miller successfully recreates.

The acting became more natural and improved more generally as the play went on, with Howlett and Tania Shew (as Beatrice) growing into particularly strong lead actresses. Shew was particularly impressive at showing the audience the subtext of Catherine and Eddie’s somewhat oddly close relationship with subtle looks and glances, which were replaced with suitably aggressive outbursts as the plot developed.

That being true, some of the more elegant parts of Miller’s overall vision were lost in this staging, particularly the scene where Catherine lights Eddie’s cigar—the lack of smoke failed to give the image that the script is crying out for; the elegance is lost.

While the dark aesthetic was effective in transmitting the overall view of the directors, the scene changes were lacking in any real feeling as they consisted of mere changes of light. Music, to fill the silence, would have been desirable to breathe some more life into the performance.

Miller, writing in the foreword to the original play script, described Eddie’s character as a “prototype”: a tragic hero who is slowly destroyed as the action progresses. Tragically, some of the most crucial moments in the play were performed in darkness due to the scantiness of lighting, though overall, Playlliol’s production of View delivered in the end. The performances managed to eke out the tension through the duration of the play and keep me hooked right until the final denouement.

A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller was produced by Playlliol at the Pilch Studio, Jowett Walk, and performed during fifth week.

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