Powerful drama of betrayal and revenge

Issue 

A View from the Bridge
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Adam Cook
Belvoir Street Theatre, Sydney
Until March 3
Reviewed by Pip Hinman
Arthur Miller described the story which became A View from the Bridge as a Greek tragedy. It's a story about compulsive, obsessive behaviour which has become so powerful that only a tragic ending is possible. Eddie (Marshall Napier) and his wife Beatrice (Gillian Jones) agree to accommodate two of Beatrice's Sicilian cousins who have illegally entered the US in search of work and a better life. Marco (Justin Monjo) has had to leave a family behind; he hopes to see them in six years' time. Wide-eyed Rodolpho (Mitchell Butel), Marco's younger brother, and Catherine (Essie Davis), Beatrice and Eddie's sheltered niece, immediately fall for each other. Eddie becomes extremely jealous of Catherine's affection for Rodolpho. After all, there has to be something wrong with a man who is not only blond, but a tenor and a dressmaker! Everyone on the wharves thinks so too. Hence Rodolpho's nickname — the paper doll. The tragedy unfolds as Eddie, powerfully played by Napier, loses all control. Advice from his long-suffering wife and the trusted family lawyer, Alfieri (Ralph Cotterill), are to no avail. All Eddie can think about is losing Catherine. Miller, who came from a middle-class family, didn't escape the ill effects of poverty. He was 14 when the stock market crashed in 1929, sending his family's business into virtual bankruptcy. Some decades later Miller became an outspoken critic of the McCarthyite House Committee on Un-American Activities. As result of The Crucible, his criticism of the witch-hunt against communists, Miller became persona non grata with the US State Department. Miller makes working-class solidarity a strong theme of A View from the Bridge. Condoning Eddie and Beatrice's decision to harbour illegal immigrants, he has no pity for Eddie's final betrayal. Marco wants revenge. In the old country, Eddie would be killed for betraying his family, he says, no matter what the law says. The lawyer Alfieri urges Marco to forget. Alfieri, who also acts as a spokesperson for Miller, makes the point that for thousands of years "the law" has meant nothing but oppression to poor people. However, immigrants in a new country have to settle for less — emotionally speaking. The material comforts of the new life offset this disadvantage, according to Alfieri. Is this an insight into the fundamentally liberal perspective of Miller? Director Adam Cook has done a wonderful job with some very strong actors. Lighting designer Nigel Levings has produced a suitably gloomy set, and Paul Charlier's original music scores added the right element of suspense. Not to be missed. Company B will present a free performance of A View from the Bridge for the unwaged and members of the arts industry on Wednesday, February 21, at 2pm.