Arthur Miller scripts are classics. Watching one of his plays is comparable to listening to The Beatles; A View from the Bridge is well-known, well-written and accessible but can easily flop in the wrong hands. As with most of the classics it has been done to death – making it the ‘Hey Jude’ of 20th century theatre. There’s almost too much to work with; it’s a psychological drama with a social background. Justice, betrayal, community, family and love are just some of the thematic mountains the play ascends.
Luckily, this production is gifted with a highly intuitive directing team. Rebecca Kinder confidently steams through the scenes, fully aware of multiple themes and dynamics at once. Assistant Director Ella Waldman has the much undervalued talent of heightened perceptiveness; she clocks and corrects every line that jars and the movements that grate.
Their direction doesn’t go unheeded. The cast are mostly able to execute the Brooklyn accent to a standard that actually compliments their natural speech. For instance the beautiful register of Marie Findlay, with that East Coast peep, makes the character of Catherine all the more heart-breaking. At times, the dialogue lapses into parroting but the actors seem conscious of their habits, and endeavour (for the most part successfully) to break them in the next reading.
The ground-work has been laid for an excellent, well-rounded, performance of this modern classic. The question however is how much further can the performance go? In just one hour of rehearsals, the characters of Beatrice and Alfieri (Lauren Hyett and Ed Barr-Sim) go from functional stage filler to intriguing, fleshed-out personalities. Meanwhile other actors become stuck in ruts – technically impressive ruts, but ruts, nonetheless. In a performance like this lackadaisical thinking is a killer for progress, and, just halfway through rehearsals, we can only hope it hasn’t peaked too early.
A View From the Bridge is on at The Oxford Playhouse from Wednesday-Saturday of 1st Week.