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12 June 2024

A new A View from the Bridge captures the play’s humour and darkness

The Crown’s Dominic West is compelling as the working-class, Italian-American longshoreman Eddie Carbone.

By Jason Cowley

I grew up in a household in which Arthur Miller was revered – my father used to read me sections from his epic memoir Timebends – but I read his 1955 play A View from the Bridge for the first time only a few months ago because my son is studying it for English GCSE. I was intrigued, therefore, when I heard Lindsay Posner’s production had arrived in the West End following a four-week run at the Theatre Royal in Bath. And even more intrigued to see what Dominic West, an Old Etonian (and Prince Charles in The Crown), would make of the role of Eddie Carbone, a working-class, Italian-American longshoreman. As it turns out, he makes a lot of the role in a compelling performance that captures the humour of the play and the darkness.

Eddie’s settled life in Brooklyn is disturbed by the arrival of two Sicilian brothers, cousins of Eddie’s wife, Beatrice (Kate Fleetwood). They are illegal immigrants seeking refuge at Eddie’s apartment as well as work in the docks. From the moment they appear Eddie is never at ease. The younger brother, Rodolpho (a largely comic turn by Callum Scott Howells), is blond, handsome, musical and effeminate. He’s also attracted to Eddie’s 17-year-old niece, Catherine (Nia Towle), and she to him.

Eddie is appalled. He and Beatrice have raised the girl since early childhood. They are like parents to her. But other forces are unlocked. Eddie is deeply protective of his niece but also sexually desires her, and his wife knows it. He loves the girl and wants to possess her.

West-as-Eddie is heavily built, conflicted and never still. He eats quickly, he discards the newspaper he cannot concentrate on and paces the spare Brooklyn apartment restlessly. We sense his torment and experience his rage as he accuses and abuses all who try to reason with him – his wife, his niece and especially Rodolpho. He has a “destiny”, we are told, by Alfieri (Martin Marquez), who serves as both narrator, a one-man Greek chorus, and as a minor character, a local lawyer from whom Eddie seeks guidance. Everyone can see what Eddie cannot: that there is no way out for him. He has started something only he can finish.

[See also: Spirited Away review: A feat of engineering and aesthetics]

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This article appears in the 12 Jun 2024 issue of the New Statesman, The hard-right insurgency