One of my all-time favourite playwrights is Arthur Miller. His most famous play is The Crucible, which many people remember as a text they were forced to read in school. Miller is not all Salem witch trials and McCarthyism though…
A View from the Bridge is set in Red Hook, an area not far from New York, but much poorer in comparison to the big city. The play is set in 1950’s America in a predominantly Italian-American neighbourhood, where loyalty and honour are paramount. Our tragic protagonist is Eddie Carbone, who is far too close to his wife’s niece, Catherine. The dramatic tension in this play is caused when Eddie’s wife, Beatrice, has her two cousins come to stay. Marco and Rodolpho are illegal immigrants who want to work to send money home to Italy. Catherine falls in love with Rodolpho, which is where the trouble begins.
The performance I saw, at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich, was a very simple set; a chair and a white screen. However, the minimalistic set worked well in conjunction with the historic balconies and beams that the theatre has. The actor Nick Meir played the role of Eddie, alongside Nyree Williams as Catherine. The cast was a brilliant mix of young and older actors. The role of Alfieri, the lawyer who narrates and acts as a chorus, was well played, showcasing the power that a character like that can have in such a dynamic part of a play. Williams gave a great performance, utilizing a convincing New York accent and her skillful portrayal of a young woman, to bring the character of Catherine to life. Nick Meir had some amazing moments, especially in Alfieri’s office where I could feel that sense of alarm that Alfieri explains with ‘his eyes being like tunnels’. Alfieri’s character is described as the ‘Bridge’ between the two cultures, American and Italian, and so has an important job to do overall in the play, not only as its narrator and chorus.
The play ran for a whole week, with evening and daytime performances. This was the perfect week for the setting, because the heat really made it feel like an American community made up of longshore men. The play runs for two and a half hours with an interval in between the two acts.
Arthur Miller’s plays vary in number of acts. The Crucible is a four act play but has a five act play structure, whereas A View from the Bridge has far less acts, but does not feel like a short play. It has powerful and compelling lines which drive its plot.
This play is really worth a read and worth seeing live because it brings Miller’s words to life. I really recommend reading all his plays, but this one especially because of its intrigue and suspense.
Arts Editor Leia Butler:
The best thing about A View From The Bridge is the intense passion within the storyline. The characters are so well-crafted and make the play so easy to immerse yourself in. The parts I found most successful were the scenes with Eddie and Catherine as they were the most dramatic and this was the storyline I was most invested in.
I also loved the stage directions within the play. They are so simple yet add so much meaning to each and every sentence.
The coolest thing about A View From The Bridge is that Miller wrote lots of alternative endings! I loved reading these and seeing all the different possible outcomes of the story and it added a completely different dimension to the play.