Review / Emotional night of theatre

Theatre / “A View from the Bridge”.  Canberra Repertory.  Open until 20 May.  Review by JOHN LOMBARD

Alexander Clubb and Karen Vickery, at left, in “A View from the Bridge”. Photo by Helen Drum

DIRECTOR Chris Baldock has crafted an involving and moving adaptation of Arthur Miller’s tragic play, drawing the audience into the world of Sicilian dockside workers in 1950s Brooklyn.
Patriarch Eddie Carbone (Knox Peden) shelters two illegal immigrants in his house, but becomes ferociously jealous when one of them (Alexander Clubb as Rodolpho) begins to woo his niece, the vibrant Catherine (Karina Hudson).
Eddie is both the father who cannot let go and a jealous lover, tormented by feelings he is ashamed of, and convinced that the fey, singing, dressmaking Rodolpho is gay and exploiting Catherine to secure citizenship.
The attitudes of Eddie and the Italian-American community to issues such as masculinity, the role of women, homosexuality and justice are distant both in time and place, but convincing performances and a understanding script involve the audience in this fascinating world.

From left, Cameron Thomas, Benjamin Russell and Knox Peden. Photo by Helen Drum

Crucially this production keeps Rodolpho’s sexuality and intentions an open question, forcing the audience to sift evidence and form their own conclusion, making Eddie’s struggle to convince his family of a truth he is absolutely certain of more compelling.
For an Australian audience, the story of immigrants hiding in the community has special resonance and the struggle of these characters to both evade detection and win a better life won sympathy rather than judgement.
Director Baldock riffs on Miller’s Greek Tragedy inspiration, inserting a chorus into the play to respond to the action and emphasise key moments.  Alexander Clubb’s seraphic singing voice is also used to good effect. These flourishes enrich the play without pulling focus from Miller’s family tragedy.
Watching this play I was impressed both by Miller’s humane, subtle and complex script, and the freshness first-time Canberra Repertory director Chris Baldock brought to the play.  “A View from the Bridge” is vital and often unpredictable, a thoughtful and emotional night of theatre.

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