A View From the Bridge Leaves You Spent

 

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Phoebe Fox, Mark Strong, Nicola Walker

 

 

 

By: Sandi Durell

 

Enter the Lyceum Theater and you immediately notice the rows of seating on opposite sides of the stage surrounding a stark, box-like, stripped down to nothing square space (but for two benches, a chair, an ominous opening at the back), reminiscent of a boxing ring – a very suitable backdrop for the minimalist production by the brilliant Belgian director Ivo van Hove (in tandem with the visionary Jan Versweyveld’s scenic and lighting design), as he strips Arthur Miller’s 1956 “A View From the Bridge” down to its visceral emotions.

 

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Leading the exceptional cast from The Young Vic Production is Mark Strong (Olivier Award), as the uneducated Eddie Carbone, the tragic longshoreman of the Brooklyn docks, who is well respected in his immigrant Italian neighborhood. After a hard day’s work he, and his best friend Louis (Richard Hansell) undress and wash in a hue of red, dusty haze in preparation for heading home.

 

His family includes his knowing, nagging and worried wife Beatrice (Nicola Walker) and an orphaned niece, not quite 18 Catherine (Phoebe Fox) who projects innocence, or is it foolishness in her lack of realization, as she jumps up on him wrapping her legs around his waist in her short skirt, where Eddie’s over protectiveness emanates from a more perverse center in this psychological drama. He is tormented and rages when she says she is leaving school to take a secretarial job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, knowing he will one day have to let her go. Adding to the dynamics are Bea’s two young immigrant cousins, who have illegally slipped into New York, and are now housed in their home. It isn’t long before Catherine’s yearnings and womanly feelings begin to emerge when she experiences the young, blonde dynamic Rodolpho (Russell Tovey) who has a zest for life – why he loves to sing, dance, cook and even sews, which adds fuel to Eddie’s fire of desire, saying over and over again “he’s not right.” Eddie visits the Red Hook lawyer Mr. Alfieri (Michael Gould) for advice (which he gets but doesn’t hear) telling him the young Rodolpho is only interested in marrying Catherine so he can gain citizenship. Gould also plays narrator or more of a Greek chorus.

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Russell Rovey, Mark Strong, Phoebe Fox

 

Rodolpho’s intense brother Marco (Michael Zegen) left his wife and three children behind in Sicily to work in America for 5 or 6 years, send money home and eventually return. Both brothers work on the docks, hiding from immigration. It is a code of honor to protect one’s family in this time and place which the jealous and obsessed Eddie eventually breaks.

 

When this View was announced, it seemed too soon as it was only in 2010 when Scarlett Johansson (winning a Tony Award) and Liev Schreiber gave standout performances on Broadway in a more conventional production.

 

However, there is no comparison in this bare bones conception that wreaks emotional havoc on its audience as it pulsates with raw strength and intelligence via Mr. van Hove who squeezes every nuance out of the bare-footed actors, and especially the electrifying, visceral Mr. Strong all aided by an ominous humming sound or occasional drumbeat (Tom Gibbons, sound design) that speaks of approaching terror.

 

My only note is that when members of the cast are speaking upstage, it’s sometimes difficult to hear along with the fact that the heavily used Brooklyn-ese/Italian accents from the mostly British cast, at times, become unintelligible words.

 

Thomas Michael Hammond rounds out the cast in the role of the Officer.

 

A View From the Bridge continues thru Feb. 21, 2016 at the Lyceum Theater, 149 West 45 Street. It runs approximately 2 hours with no intermission.

 

Photos: Jan Versweyveld

 

 

 

 

 

 

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