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Saturday 10 December 2016

Review: A View from the Bridge

Lauren Coe and Scott Aiello in A View from the Bridge. ©The Gate Theatre
Lauren Coe and Scott Aiello in A View from the Bridge. ©The Gate Theatre
Scott Aiello

It's a tricky one, this. On the one hand, Eddie Carbone, Arthur Miller's famously tortured Italian-American patriarch, is his usual self; devastatingly effective, in fact, in the hands of the captivating Scott Aiello.

On the other hand, poor Peter Coonan looks well and truly lost as Marco, Eddie's strongman cousin from Italy. Dodgy accent, dodgy casting.

The set - a towering contraption that doubles up as both the interior and exterior of a 1950s Brooklyn apartment (and, to an extent, the New York docks) is an impressive sight, with its giant balconies and a cute backdrop of the bridge. But this is drama land we're in, not West Side Story.

And then there's the heavy-handed score (Marco and Eddie's melodramatic bust-up comes with its very own "dum, dum, dum"). It's a good thing, then, that someone remembers to keep things understated (a solid Niamh McCann as Eddie's wife, Beatrice). Up and down it goes, the Gate's overblown yet decidedly entertaining version of A View from the Bridge keeping its head one minute and going all Hollywood on us the next.

OBSESSED

Arthur Miller's 1955 family tragedy is, essentially, the story of a hot-headed longshoreman (Eddie) who harbours improper feelings for his niece, Catherine (an impressive Lauren Coe). Actually, he's borderline obsessed with the girl (17).

Meanwhile, Catherine is infatuated with one of the Italian immigrants whom Eddie has agreed to shelter in his home (Joey Phillips as Rodolpho).

It doesn't help matters that Eddie's marriage is slowly falling apart. He only has eyes for Catherine, and he worries that Rodolpho "ain't right" (he believes the young fella is gay). So, Eddie intimidates and bullies Rodolpho. Our trusty narrator, Alfieri the lawyer (an enthused Bosco Hogan), warns us that the worst is yet to come.

It's a fascinating set-up - not nearly as significant a piece as Miller's Death of a Salesman, but a great deal better than The Price. See, no matter what way you go about staging the man's work, Arthur Miller's writing is still pretty neat. Here, it's a question of who can play it cooler; who can shout the loudest; who can do the best accent (Aiello, a New Yorker, wins that battle, obviously).

The dinner table scenes are naturalistic and compelling, but the final showdown is both anti-climactic and poorly executed (the actors should really stay on stage). At least we have Aiello. Seriously, he's that good. Heck, I'd watch the guy perform a one-man version of A View from the Bridge. Hmmm, now there's an idea…

Rating ***

Ends October 24

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