Writer: Arthur Miller
Director: David Thacker
Reviewer: Malcolm Wallace
Arthur Miller’s play premiered on Broadway in 1955 with less than favourable reviews, but following revisions and an apt relocation, given the subject matter, across the pond to London, this play has been one of Miller’s most popular, enjoying regular performances and critical acclaim alike.
The story snapshots into the warm and outwardly normal life of Longshoreman Eddie Carbone (Colin Connor) working the docks in Brooklyn and earning for his wife Beatrice (Barbara Drennan) and her niece, Catherine. (Natasha Davidson.) They await the arrival of Beatrice’s family from Italy, illegal immigrants looking to make money and a new life in the USA. However, the introduction of new characters to the unit expose it to love, honour and betrayal with terrible consequences.
Miller deals with uncomfortable topics and addresses the boundaries of love in a very intimate and intense way. The play is full of suggestion, all of which is played out in the audiences’ minds rather than addressed directly.
The impressive performance by Connor drives the story forward with ease, his characterisation showing a real depth of character, always retaining a warmth and empathy, no matter how disturbing. Davidson warms into her rôle as her character ages and handles the emotional scenes well, with the two immigrant characters Rodolpho (Tristan Brooke) and Marco (David Nabil Stuart) playing their rôles well with excellent accents that do not falter; Nabil Stuart should be noted for his terrifically strong performance at the end of Act One which he delivers with presence and poise. It is, however, Drennan that demands attention throughout, delivering a powerhouse performance, with her eyes telling her story and her every move firmly grounded in the honesty and tragedy of her character: a truly engaging performance. The five principals work well and really deliver this powerful content.
The simple yet effective set and lighting, designed by Ciaran Bagnall, splits the action well, with the stage floor providing the intensity and claustrophobic space of the apartment. The use of a bridge works extremely well and places the play well. Director David Thacker understands the characterisation, allowing each character to develop through growth or deterioration, and he uses the space well, even involving the audience as the judgemental mob in Act Two. Adrian Johnston’s original compositions aids the direction and steers the audience as the harmony disintegrates.
This is a wonderful production with some fantastic performances and clever staging. It is a fitting tribute to the original concept with David Thacker’s passion for the works of Arthur Miller being clear to see.
Runs until: 14th February 2015