Thanks to a number of shoddy GCSE drama performances, I tend to be a little hesitant upon seeing the title A View from the Bridge. Done badly, this Tony Award winning play by Arthur Miller has the potential to be dull, with the odd overdramatic shouting match thrown in for good measure. But done well, the script allows for a performance that is built on the subtleties of real, human emotion. I am glad to say that this production should certainly be assigned to the latter category.
Set in Brooklyn, the narrative tells the story of longshoreman Eddie, who lives with his wife, Beatrice, and orphaned niece, Catherine. When two of Beatrice’s cousins, Marco and Rudolpho, illegally emigrate from Italy, they are welcomed by Eddie. However, a romance between Rudolpho and Catherine makes Eddie jealous, and sparks tension in the household and the community.
What I saw was an open rehearsal and so a work in progress – but boy, what progress it is making. In front of my eyes I watched moderately well-acted scenes transform into a believable reality. The directors have engaged with the characters and given each a story. In particular, the roles of Catherine and Beatrice, who are relativelyunderdeveloped in the text, aregiven a purpose. I also witnessed anon-going discourse between directorand actor about the characters’ motivations and how each scene should be played, producing remarkable results.
There are a few moments, those of particularly high emotion, which lose the sense of reality which hasbeen so carefully cultivated in other less ‘dramatic’ scenes, although I don’t doubt that these will bebrought up to scratch by show time. A particular mention should go to Barney White as Eddie. He is entirely convincing as the troubled man from Brooklyn docks and portrays perfectly the dichotomy of the character’s simultaneous hero and villain roles. Despite the preview taking place in a small room in St Peter’s College, complete with a rather incessant drilling sound, White’s performance remained entirely believable.
One of the main challenges this talented cast faces is accents. Identity and nationality are fundamental themes in the play, and so a convincing Brooklyn or Italian accent is key. Mostly they are good, with occasional slips. However, too many lines were lost due to the focus on accent, making some parts of the script incomprehensible. However, I am certain that this dedicated production team and talented group of actors will rise to the challenges and overcome them before first week.