English and Drama: 'A View From The Bridge' Review

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Last week, Miles Theatre audiences witnessed stunning performances of Arthur Miller's timeless American tragedy, 'A View From The Bridge'.

After a frenetic twelve weeks of rehearsal, a wonderfully talented cast of actors — several making their Bede’s debuts — transported viewers from chilly Upper Dicker to the teeming dockyards and cramped tenements of 1950s Brooklyn.

For anyone new to this remarkable play, Luke Noble’s mature and nuanced performance as level-headed lawyer Alfieri did much to aid the exposition phase. From the outset, we were warned:  the play would “run its bloody course”, and the tragic web of jealousy and uncontrollable passion would indeed enmesh each and every member of the cast.  Within moments, we were hooked.

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In opening scenes, Kozma Prelevic — in spectacular form as blue-collar malcontent Eddie Carbone — set about bringing to life a deeply ambivalent and contradictory central protagonist.  Though the role must surely be one of the most coveted in the whole American theatrical canon, few could demand more of a young actor.  Undaunted, Prelevic gave audiences every facet of this troubled patriarch: we saw the doting uncle, the spiteful, suffering husband, the dreamer and idealist, and, finally, the desperate man, fighting for his name.

With its reputation for hosting large ensemble casts, the Miles stage sees few plays where a single performer is required to carry so much on their own shoulders, but 'A View From The Bridge' leaves little room for an uncertain Eddie Carbone to hide. It is fair to say that audiences were simply stunned by the intensity, energy and volatility of Prelevic’s performance. On the strength on this, it certainly cannot be his final role at the school.

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The play, of course, thrives on its simmering conflicts.  And for that, we needed a cast of considerable ability.

Maia Page Rubio, as Beatrice, perfectly conveyed the quiet suffering of Eddie’s wife and, in an extremely subtle and sensitive performance, managed to convey both immense love and frustration with her disaffected husband. Page Rubio showed, as few young actors could, a levity and energy in early domestic scenes and, when tragedy finally loomed, an extremely poignant attempt at saving Eddie’s life. Though Maia will be going on to study Anthropology at university next year, she is surely destined for more leading theatrical roles in future years.

Though Miller’s pay is fairly light on humour, the lively cast managed to leaven the tone and won a fair few belly-laughs from appreciative evening audiences with their superb comic timing.

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The arrival of Rodolpho and Marco, played by Dorms’ Jan Apolin and Ben Barden, brought some much-needed lightness to act one through a mixture of charming repartee and flamboyant characterisation. With comparatively few lines, stalwart Ben Barden nevertheless gave another memorable performance as taciturn dock worker Marco, notably in an extremely powerful prison scene. To do so much, largely through subtle movement and expression is testament to Ben’s incredible skills on stage.

As stowaway dreamer Rodolpho, Jan gave an exuberant and versatile performance, which included some wonderful moments of physical comedy, pitch-perfect crooning and scene of touching intimacy with the young Catherine (played with real verve by Charleston’s Aisling Cotter).

At the heart of the play, the troubling relationship between Eddie and Catherine is never easy to stage. In a sense, audiences must recognise the genuine warmth and paternal care in Eddie’s words, yet at the same time, any performance worth its salt would never shy away from the unsettling intimacy between an older married man and his teenage niece.

In her first senior school role, Aisling Cotter showd immense sensitivity and calculated vulnerability as Catherine, giving a real warmth to her scenes with Eddie and an authenticity to her relationship with Rodolpho. As many audience members remarked, the fact that Cotter is able to produce such a convincing performance in her L5th year bodes exceptionally well for the future.

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With an equally young supporting cast, featuring convincing performances from Rodrigo Merlo, as Mike, Mike Barker, as Louis, and Jessica Frisby and Harry Latto as immigration officers, we can also be sure that we are seeing performers at the very beginning of their Bede’s careers, as well as more seasoned actors.

As the curtain falls on another production, the view ahead — for these young actors — is certainly a promising one. I can’t wait to see what they do next!

Mr Oliver is hugely grateful to his cast for their unstinting efforts for over twelve weeks of rehearsals, and to the Drama department for their brilliant support of the production. Matthew Moloney, always a first choice for visuals, deserves a huge thank you for photographing and filming the performance, whilst Mr Waring’s superb set helped us evoke each scene so convincingly. Miss Conlon was invaluable in make-up and costume, and a special thank you must go to Bob Brown for his atmospheric and moody set lighting design.

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