With its plot driven by the housing of undocumented immigrants, there’s plenty in A View from the Bridge to tempt a director into the pursuit of topical relevance — not always a successful tactic.
In his return to Irish theatre, however, former Abbey director Joe Dowling lets the play speak for itself, giving a reverent and traditional reading to Arthur Miller’s Greek tragedy-inspired classic.
Our tragic hero is Eddie Carbone, a Brooklyn longshoreman: the strutting, assured male in a household comprise of his wife, Beatrice (Niamh McCann), and her orphan niece, Catherine (Lauren Coe), whom the couple have raised.
Scott Aiello, himself an Italian-American, is perfectly cast as Eddie, giving an assured, authentic centre to the drama. He manages to pitch perfectly the manner and voice of his character, while hinting at Eddie’s inner turbulence, his self-delusion and his unresolved sexuality.
Beowulf Borrit’s set largely keeps the way clear for Eddie’s descent. The domestic setting takes centre stage, flanked by wooden dockside scaffolds and backdropped by a view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
The tragedy is set in course by the arrival of Beatrice’s Italian cousins, Marco (Peter Coonan) and Rodolpho (Joey Phillips). Marco is all right in Eddie’s black-and-white view of the world — a bullish, hard-working family man. In fact, he’s Eddie’s ideal of a man, an ideal he knows deep down he can’t attain.
Rodolpho, though, he dances. He sings. He tells jokes. He can even sew! “The guy ain’t right,” Eddie complains to Bosco Hogan’s lawyer, narrator and one-man Greek chorus. And worse, Catherine has fallen for him.
Eddie’s traditionalist persona is affronted by Catherine and Rodolpho’s relationship, but his denied inner desires are what spur him to a inescapably tragic confrontation, his name, his certainties, his world, collapsing around him.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved