by Arthur Miller.

Octagon Theatre Howell Croft South BL1 1SB To 14 February 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm except 26 Jan 5pm Mat 24, 28 Jan, 4, 7 Feb 2pm.
Audio-described 28 Jan 7.30pm.
BSL Signed 22 Jan.
Runs 2hr 25min One interval.

TICKETS: 01204 520661.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 19 January.

An evening of mounting impact.
David Thacker’s new production seems to offer a view of the bridge, though the platform backing the Octagon stage doesn’t soar high over the floor where longshoreman Eddie Carbone’s house nestles among the crowds, as does the Brooklyn Bridge over Redhook’s workers and their illegal immigrant relatives, cutting-off the community from the mainstream of New York life. Yet the idea’s suggested in Ciaran Bagnall’s design.

Life initially seems easy within Redhook’s roughness. There’s gaming, there are homes to go to, a sense of commonality – and some whisky always turns-up around Christmas. Criminal activities and honest work are elided and nobody objects in this isolated bit of the Big Apple.

Thacker has long had particular sympathy for Miller’s work, with its social responsibility and humanity, serious concerns and carefully-constructed realities. Qualities that have always served him splendidly in directing Henrik Ibsen’s plays have been intensified by a constructive working relationship with Miller. The result of this experience and understanding is seen at the Octagon in the easy approach early in the production. The first hints of Eddie’s obsession with teenage niece Catherine are the lightest ripple on the daily surface of life, his permission for her to leave college and start work quite easily won.

It’s when having his niece around is more directly threatened that matters become urgent. One of the relatives he takes in is young, blonde and handsome Rodolpho, an obvious new focus for the young woman’s affection.

Tristan Brooke’s manner is bright, his hair defiantly light in contrast to all around. There’s a finely-held tension between Eddie and the household’s two women. Natasha Davidson’s Catherine finds new life with Rodolpho, its happiness offsetting the puzzling anger which accumulates and overwhelms Colin Connor’s well-paced Eddie. His wife isn’t puzzled; she’s seen it coming and if Barbara Drennan holds back in a role which works largely through restraint, the sympathy between the women in this male environment is clear, her ultimate declaration the more shocking.

Not everything’s perfect. The chorus-like commentating lawyer Alfieri seems awkward, the neighbours and fellow-workers rather routinely handled. The central drama, though, comes scorchingly through.

Rodolpho: Tristan Brooke.
Eddie Carbone: Colin Connor.
Catherine: Natasha Davidson.
Beatrice: Barbara Drennan.
Alfieri: Patrick Poletti.
Louis: James Quinn.
Mike: Russell Richardson.
Tony/1st Immigration Officer: Eamonn Riley.
Marco: David Nabil Stuart.

Director: David Thacker.
Designer/Lighting: Ciaran Bagnall.
Sound: Andy Smith.
Composer: Adrian Johnston.
Movement/Associate director: Lesley Hutchison.
Fight director: Terry King.
Assistant director: Joe Mellor.

2015-01-23 11:54:26

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