Review: Dramsoc presents: A View from The Bridge

Last week, Bristol University’s ‘Dramsoc’ presented their take on Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge.” Directed by BAFTA-nominated Sam Jones, ultraviolet light, bleached walls and smatterings of red paint metamorphosed 1950’s Brooklyn into a violent figuration of Eddie Carbone’s tortured mind.

Stretching boundaries and harmonising the cinematic with sophisticated symbolism, the equipoise achieved between the intimately domestic and the psychologically harrowing unnervingly collapsed the fourth wall, achieving a standard far beyond that of an amateur student production.

 

The two-act play is set in an Italian neighbourhood near Brooklyn Bridge, New York. Eddie Carbone (Ned Costello), a well-respected longshoreman, has his tragic trajectory narrated by lawyer Alfieri (Nathan Sames) and the chorus. Protagonist Carbone is shown to have inappropriate love for his wife Beatrice’s (Alice Hoskyns) orphaned niece, Catherine (Phoebe Campbell). Tensions arise as Eddie disapproves of Catherine’s courtship by Beatrice’s cousin Rodolfo (Jonas Moore), who arrives as an illegal Italian immigrant with his brother Marco (Tullio Campanale).

In addition to their unsettling whispers and heavy breathing, the chorus’s whitened jumpsuits and jarring choreography fuelled the plot’s growing tension and the audience’s constant, inexplicable anxiety.

Along with producer Anna Wyn, costume designer Ella Clarke and set designers Kate Goldup and Ruth Steinman, ‘Dramsoc’ have produced a sickeningly bold tale that leaves viewers broken yet fixed to their seats. From the opening dinner tableau to the final seconds of blood raining down the windows, the naturalistic frills of ordinary life are fused with grandeur and a sense of the alien. Not simply a family tragedy, the presentation of Eddie as the ‘Every Man’ has a disquieting suggestion that the jealous, insecure and powerless tyrant lurks within us all.

As the immigration officers (Will Kirk and Kate Crisp) haul Rodolfo and Marco off the stage, Miller’s tragedy intimates that it is Eddie’s inability to confront changing definitions of masculinity and honour, of identity and power, that determines his inevitable demise. Alfieri’s repeated line, “his eyes were like tunnels,” punctuates Carbone’s increasingly obsessive behaviour that is performed in a collapsing theatrical space; the walls of his home, mind and life are literally torn down.

 

Eddie’s performance was strikingly contrasted with the pathos of Beatrice, Eddie’s wife, divided as wife, sexual woman and doting mother. Fully encapsulating the fissures within domestic life, Hoskyns plays a spouse whose spirit has been worn down by stoicism and loyalty. Equally, Campbell’s rendition of Catherine exposed the awkward transition from girl to woman, forced to face the reality of roles and expectations she must accommodate.

This highly mature production balanced cinematic effects with low-key, true-to-life acting. The astonishingly metaphorical, fluctuating setting modernised Miller’s play while remaining true to its themes and frictions, enabling the audience to view the past and their present in a new light.