THEATRE – A View from the Bridge – Playhouse – 4K

By Peter Maddern

Arthur Miller’s classic is an intense study of one man and his battles to both gain control of his world and then meet challenges against it. At the play’s outset, longshoreman Eddie Carbone (Mark Saturno) has his life in and around the docks on an even keel; he has fought the battles against the vicissitudes of employment and money to build his albeit modest home and provide for his wife, Beatrice (Elena Carapetis), and her niece, Catherine (Maiah Stewardson) who has longed lived with them.  Through those challenges he has sustained a strong strain of generosity for his niece and also for new boat arrivals, even when at the expense of personal hardship.

However, change is ever present and Eddie is ill-prepared for it when Catherine, soon 18 years old, starts to explore a career beyond school and life out of home. Even more is the case when relatives of his wife, two Italian illegal immigrants, Marco (Dale March) and Rodolpho (Antoine Jelk) come to stay, the latter quickly forming a relationship with Catherine.

Mark Saturno as the tortured Eddie produces his best performance yet for the State Theatre Company. His brooding mix of anger and dissonance against all he believed to be true is palpable and, as unbecoming as some of his views and antics may be, Saturno still evokes in his audience a wish that Eddie prevails. Elena Carapetis, as Beatrice, is in good form, sustaining in us a better view of a broader world than her husband yet convincingly presenting as often confused and tested by his increasingly parallel universe.  Maiah Stewardson’s Catherine is a joy; youthful exuberance striving to reach the better place Eddie says he wishes for her yet conflicting with a hitherto existence she does not necessarily have to be subservient to. Antoine Jelk’s Rodolpho also meets the challenges of his culture clashes in what too is his best performance for the Company. Bill Allert’s Alfieri the lawyer delivers a strong opening but his appearances seem to lose their steam in the production, especially as the second half progresses.

No critique of A View would be complete without commendation for Victoria Lamb’s set design that with its multiple hanging ropes, pulleys and cuboid frames clearly places the production in some docklands area. Yet it also simultaneously both allows players, especially Alfieri, to be seen to be witnesses to Eddie’s internal turmoil and propagates the sense of order and control that once was and so desperately needs to be restored.

Kate Champion’s direction is assured, perhaps more so than her comments in the program about the work being about ‘the plight of illegal immigrants and issues around domestic patriarchal abuse and the innate survival instincts of its female characters’. Rather, at least in this reviewer’s consideration,   A View speaks, even today, more strongly against the world that Miller endured; an America looking to identify and weed out the ‘reds under the bed’ that elites saw as a threat to the ordered world they believed was theirs to have and sustain after the losses of World War II.

This is a richly rewarding theatrical experience.

Kryztoff Rating    4K

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