by Arthur Miller.

Royal Exchange Theatre St Ann’s Square M2 7DH To 25 June 2011.
Mon-Fri 7.30pm Sat 8pm Mat Wed 2.30pm, Sat 4pm.
Audio-described 18 June 4pm.
BSL Signed 24 June.
Post-show Discussion 15 June.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.

TICKETS: 0161 833 9833.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 28 May.

Close-up tragedy makes big impact.
It’s almost twenty years since the Royal Exchange produced Arthur Miller’s Greek-tragedy derived play about New York longshoreman Eddie Carbone and the unacknowledged sexual jealousy provoked when two family members arrive from Italy as “submarines”, or illegal immigrants. Unresolved fury at seeing one of them, Rodolpho, loved by the niece he’s brought up, makes Eddie break the code of loyalty and silence.

Related by critic Robert Brustein to the author’s refusal to name names to the anti-communist House Un-American Activities Committee, the play lives beyond its immediate circumstances as a tragedy of failure in self-awareness, and of unintended consequences. Everything Eddie wants doesn’t happen, and things he would hate, he brings about.

Gregory Hersov’s 1992 Exchange production had an outstanding performance in Gillian Hanna’s Beatrice, Eddie’s neglected wife, who watches and understands what’s happening around her. Anna Francolini might not bring Hanna’s depth to the role (few could) but gives a fine, energetic, watchful performance, a portrait of reason desperately trying to right the imbalances around. There’s good work too from Leila Mimmack, who by putting-up her hair signals Catherine’s change from girl to woman over the interval, something reflected in her manner and movement.

Her new style points to Catherine’s future with Rodolpho, while Eddie’s refusal to accept she’s grown-up, his clinging to the past, represents his tragedy. Nitzan Sharron and Ronan Raftery characterise the immigrant brothers distinctly, but the production’s particular strengths lie three ways.

Despite having repeatedly to descend a spiral staircase, presumably to show he’s in but not of the longshore community, Ian Redford’s Alfieri is a narrator who shows a weariness born of understanding people in the area. Con O’Neill, ever-good at seething, suggesting intensity and potential threat, reveals Eddie’s intense idealism over Catherine, wanting her to move upwards to an office job in a decent district, and his perplexity when his underlying feelings are identified.

And there’s Sarah Frankcom’s staging. Aided by James Cotterill’s design, it places the Carbone apartment one side of the stage, but open to the street, where a rusted, leaking hydrant sums-up the district’s mood. In all, well worth viewing.

Alfieri: In Redford.
Louis: Alexander Andreou.
Mike: Chris Jack.
Eddie Carbone: Con O’Neill.
Catherine: Leila Mimmack.
Beatrice: Anna Francolini.
Tony/2nd Immigration Officer: Nicholas Mai.
Marco: Nitzan Sharron.
Rodolpho: Ronan Raftery.
1st Immigration Officer/Longshoreman: Guy Rhys.
Mr Lipari: Abas Eljanabi.
Mrs Lipari: Indra J Adler.
Submarines/Longshoremen: Qas Hamid, Mohammad Aljarrah.
Neighbours: Lyn Armstrong, Ben Baxter, Dafydd Brooks, Joe Corrigan, Jane Crix, Sarah Gilby, Christine Horner, Helena Jarman, Gail Meacham, Alan Peacock, Mark Sutcliffe, Steven Tomlinson, Chrisstopher White, Mahdi Kohan Zadeh.

Director: Sarah Frankcom.
Designer: James Cotterill.
Lighting: Johanna Town.
Sound: Peter Rice.
Dialect: Jan Haydn Rowles.
Fights: Kate Waters.
Assistant director: Kim Pearce.

2011-05-31 13:37:55

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