UCLU Runaground's View From The Bridge

Fri 2nd – Fri 16th August 2013

reviews

Ashley Chhibber

at 02:01 on 5th Aug 2013

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UCLU’s adaptation of the Arthur Miller classic presents over an hour of emotional intensity which never lets up. The production is fantastically well cast, each actor inhabiting their character perfectly (without even a single accent slip-up), all of the performances deeply moving and the relationships very human and truly believable. Melissa Taylor wears the character of Beatrice like a second skin; even the minor characters, such as the sinister dockworkers Mike (Nick Flooks) and Louis (Will Jacobs) who circle Eddie like sharks in the play’s first scene of danger, could not possibly have been improved upon.

Eddie Carbone (Adam Pabani) is a man losing control, his life unravelling in front of his eyes, and he does not react well. He’s scared, and we are too on his behalf: from his delivery to his motions and expressions, Pabani’s performance is the epitome of skilful, tragically human and ultimately flawed. We cannot help but sympathise with his character, even as we harden against him, until we are as torn up inside as he is.

In terms of pure physicality, for a character described as a bull, there can be no better fit for Marco than Pavlos Christodoulou. In terms of emotional intensity, he is equally brilliant, as seen especially in his moving scene in prison. His brother Rodolpho is played by Caspar Cech-Lucas, who perhaps shows the most range in this play. From the heart-warming first meeting with Katherine (Marina Hopkins, equally strong) – a scene with real chemistry – to his rage at her accusations, and the obvious strength of spirit it takes him to confront Eddie, Cech-Lucas is always completely spot-on.

Rob Thomson as the lawyer Alfieri does not, within the confines of the plot itself, have much room to impress: it is as the narrator that Thomson’s true talent really shines. He is utterly captivating from start to finish; his final entrance, emerging calmly from the carnage of dispersing crowd like an angel of death, is blood-chilling. For me, his narration adds the final note of perfection to the production.

The lighting and technical choices, especially the use of projections and piercing noises during Eddie’s scenes with his lawyer, were very well thought out, and the simple set was effective, allowing us to focus on the actors alone. Miller’s script is obviously strong to start with, but this is a production which has done everything right. If you’re looking for the real Fringe, look no further.

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Kate Wilkinson

at 09:56 on 5th Aug 2013

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Arthur Miller’s ‘A View From The Bridge’ is a tragedy framed as a law case. Tension piques as comedy turns to tragedy when Eddie harbours two illegal immigrants from Italy. One, Rodolfo, seems to be stealing Eddie’s niece away from him.

UCLU set the scene elegantly with authentic-looking 50s costumes, simple props and projected images. For the most part, I couldn’t see the point in projecting the image of a few photo frames onto the back wall, however this device became interesting during the lawyer’s interview with a looping video of Rodolfo’s laughing face seeming to mock Eddie and haunt his thoughts. During these intense interior moments a high-pitched beep noise would sound, imperceptibly at first but gradually increasing in volume before cutting out. At first I wasn’t aware of this as a technique and thought it might be a sound issue but I certainly felt its effect of mounting pressure.

The cast performed well together, creating some truly electrifying scenes towards the end. The height difference between Eddie (Adam Pabari) and Marco (Parlos Christodoulou) made for some hilarious physical comedy. Pabari was strong throughout and managed to transcend his antagonism by inviting sympathy from the audience. His loving care for his niece was at once endearing and creepy, making for ambivalent characterisation. His demise was truly tragic.

Marina Hopkins made a sweet Catherine and captured her wide-eyed naivety well. The real standout performance for me came from Melissa Taylor as Beatrice, Eddie’s wife. She displayed both inner strength and vulnerability and her disappointments as a wife were heart-breaking to see. Pabari, Hopkins and Taylor nailed the Yankee accents and fitted their roles so perfectly they could have been a real-life family. Sadly, the supporting cast did not maintain these high standards and roamed the stage with exaggerated movements and questionable accents.

UCLU have done a good job of capturing the male insecurities of Miller’s time and testosterone levels were raging by the end. The thrust staging allowed for an immersive experience and the climax of the play was nail-bitingly tense. These wonderfully charged moments more than made up for the shortfalls of the production and director Nick Flooks has orchestrated complex ensemble scenes very well. I thoroughly recommend this show.

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