A set of crossroads was apt for Red Line Productions’ A View From The Bridge – it needed little else.
Taking place amidst a turbulent period of American history and immigration ever as relevant today, a large crossways straddled with audience members is here complemented simply by a single chair, a marked departure in tone and setting for those fans of the great Arthur Miller’s work.
Not even Miller’s most famous but by no means least emotive piece, hardened longshoreman Eddie (Ivan Donato), statedly his family’s breadwinner, has to contend with two of his wife Beatrice’s (Janine Watson) relatives turned lodgers, fresh of the boat from Italy and looking for a salary (Lincoln Younes & David Soncin). When one becomes enamoured with his ward and niece Catherine (Zoe Terakes), he’s none too content with the prospect of change.
Donato, as much the catalyst for events as he is the play’s emotional edge, is superb throughout, jumping from ire-filled patriarch to Eddie’s more vulnerable, questioning self in a matter of moments. Terakes, in her stage debut, is too a highlight, most notably in the more emotive, later sequences where her presence has a pivotal though not overstated resonance in the small space, playing well off the excellent Younes who along with Donato manages to maintain his intensive bearing throughout.
A sequence featuring Eddie and his lawyer (David Lynch), also the narrator, serves as one of the play’s best, the pair’s practiced interplay matched only by the scenes featuring Eddie and his wife which Watson heralds to quiet and ultimately searing emotional effect.
Realised well without intervals, the pauses between some scenes do however linger too long on occasion, only marginally suspending the tension in an otherwise transfixing production. The performers scattered throughout the audience in the intervening sequences remains one of the show’s better innovations, allowing for seamless transitions when they are due to play their part.
The lack of scenery, while permitting a focus on the performers (and on one of two props which plays a hugely significant part in one sequence), does render some moments awkward when performers are required to retreat to the corners and seemingly relieve themselves on a piece of furniture or household fixture. The lack of obstruction here is both of benefit by engendering a greater and natural focus on the talented performers absent distraction though at times the effect is rendered overly conspicuous by the absence of ordinary wares, their presence being more than apparent in any true to life, like environment with which the characters, due to their actions, would have to interact.
The penultimate introduction of a secondary prop, however, is very well executed, contributing greatly to the play’s palpable tension.
A treat for a round of performances that never let up their quality, A View From The Bridge is a must for any Arthur Miller fan and those enamoured with Red Line’s series of excellent productions.
Red Line Productions’ ‘A View From The Bridge’ is playing at the Old Fitz Theatre October 18 – November 25