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Theatre: Visceral Miller gets classic treatment


Strong performances: Lauren Coe and Joey Phillips in A View from the Bridge

Strong performances: Lauren Coe and Joey Phillips in A View from the Bridge

Strong performances: Lauren Coe and Joey Phillips in A View from the Bridge

Take a play about obsession which deviates into incestuous desire; layer it onto betrayal and destructive hatred; and you end up with something Greek in its compass. But when it's written by Arthur Miller, it becomes the final residue in Pandora's box. In that legend, what was left after all the evils of the world had been let loose was hope. In Miller's case, what is left is compassion.

Inevitably, comparisons will be drawn between the new Gate Theatre production of Miller's A View from the Bridge and the current refugee/migration crisis …and no bad thing.

But the plight of the poor of southern Europe in the post World War Two era was in many ways worse: there was little sense of first-world opportunities anywhere to be found, as Miller shows us when Marco and his young brother Rodolpho arrive from Sicily to skulk terrified in their New York longshoreman cousin's barely adequate home.

Their host Eddie, macho and steeped in the Italian obsession with "famiglia", has no option but to protect them until his greater, darker obsession takes over. When his wife's teenage niece, his ward, falls innocently in love with the handsome and cheerful Rodolpho, tragedy must ensue.

Eddie's hatred for the boy becomes as vile and obsessive as his unacknowledged longing to possess the girl. And as always, Miller, the castigator and chronicler of his country's failures, cries out to us: if the "American dream" was a reality rather than a mockery, if people could be themselves and hold their heads up in dignity, maybe we could all rise above the mire at our feet.

A View from the Bridge is as towering an indictment as it was when first staged 60 years ago. All it needs is a production which matches its power; and Joe Dowling, returned from Minneapolis and the Guthrie Theater, gives his audience that.

His perfect control of ensemble work is well to the fore, and yet each interpretation shines in chiselled individuality, led by Scott Aiello as the doomed and tragic Eddie, with Lauren Coe as an assured and appealing Catherine, and Joey Phillips as a likeably irrepressible Rodolpho. There is a wonderful Beatrice from Niamh McCann as the unfolding hell in her husband's psyche becomes clear to her, and a wry, regretful lawyer Alfieri from Bosco Hogan.

And Beowulf Boritt's set, with Liz Barker as scenic artist is a star in itself.

A devastating classic, given a classic production.

Sunday Indo Living