by Arthur Miller.

Young Vic Theatre 66 The Cut SE1 8LZ To 7 June 2014.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm
no performance 18, 21 April, 5, 26 May Mat Sat & 16, 23, 30 Apr, 7, 14, 21 May, 4 June 2.30pm.
Audio-described 20 May.
Captioned 22 May.
Runs 1hr 55min No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7922 2922.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 12 April.

Rather like a view without a bridge.
With Amsterdam’s Toneelgroep director Ivo van Hove has sieved theatrical gold from theatre, cinema and TV – Shakespeare, Antonioni, Bergman. Yet their epic proportions are different from the realism and thumping thematic development of Arthur Miller’s 1955 play.

Apart from being an amuse bouche for jaded theatrical palates, it’s hard to find any reason for taking away the realities of Red Hook, New York, and its tough dockside community where “submarines” (illegal immigrants) seek homes in America. Eddie Carbone snitches, for a personal reason he barely understands, even when his wife finally screams it at him, betraying not just principle but the neighbourhood.

Yet missing here are the Liparis, whose own submarines become collateral damage. Gone is everything outside the Carbone family, including their home, in a production set in an shallow, empty swimming-pool. At first Eddie and a sole workmate seem to be taking a post-shift shower. By the end it has become a bloodbath, the swift stabbing Miller requires turned into a prolonged rugby-scrum.

This might be a belated attempt to suggest a community. More likely it’s a method of extending a moment to allow a bloody stain to spread across the set. Theatrically vivid, it’s dramatically empty.

The production leaves the commentating lawyer Alfieri awkwardly outside, then involved in, the action, wandering around the auditorium for half the play before helping with stage management by bringing onto the seatless set a chair that’s necessary midway.

The unnecessary brilliance, in a play that shines by its own light, at least throws emphasis on three fine performances. Nicola Walker brings forbearance to a lifestyle Beatrice has accommodated with, Phoebe Fox swiftly moves from naïve teenager innocently rejoicing in her body, wrapping short-skirted legs round Uncle Eddie, before leaping with conscious desire upon newcomer Rodolpho, while soon hardening when up against adult dilemmas.

And Mark Strong’s Eddie, main beneficiary of the director’s approach. Without externals Eddie doesn’t have to present a face to the world around, and Strong maximises the sense of thought-processes and unconsidered emotions while compulsions tighten their grip, in a performance which almost justifies the production’s broad gestures.

Marco: Emun Elliot.
Catherine: Phoebe Fox.
Alfieri: Michael Gould.
Louis: Richard Hansell.
Rodolpho: Luke Norris.
Officer: Jonah Russell.
Eddie: Mark Strong.
Beatrice: Nicola Walker.

Director: Ivo van Hove.
Designer/Lighting: Jan Versweyveld.
Sound: Tom Gibbons.
Costume: An D’Huys.
Dramaturg: Bart Van den Eynde.
Assistant director: Jeff James.
Associate designer: James Turner.
Associate lighting: Nicki Brown.

2014-04-14 10:03:27

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