Photo by Don Kellogg

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A View From the Bridge

BAM!  What is playing over at the Lyceum Theatre just may be some of the best theatre of the decade.  This is no joke.  The Young Vic Production (straight from the UK) of Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge is setting the oldest theatre in Manhattan's stage on fire and leaving audiences stunned night after night.

Belgian experimental Director Ivo Van Hove's minimalist production is ominous and eerily powerful.  The sparse and tiny stage (made tiny mostly by adding 70 stadium style seats on either side of the stage where the wings used to be is part of the reason).  The innovative staging is reminiscent of a cage match where the actors, all barefoot by the way, engage in a brawl for two hours. Jan Verswayveld's set and mechanical box that raises and lowers around the set are a simple and brilliant idea.  Tom Gibbons' sounds reverberate and persist throughout the show adding drama and mystery to the already potent situation.

The mostly-Brit cast does an upstanding job at putting on their Brooklyn-eese.  Even when they slip on a word here or there, you never really mind that much because the tension they are all adept at creating and maintaining is masterful.  Complain if you will about two brothers straight off the boat from Italy who don't have an Italian accent whatsoever.  I don't think this production is much about authenticity, but rather a trimmed down version of the story with a singular focus of intensity, mystery,  and drama.  Mark Strong (Eddie), Phoebe Fox (Catherine), Nicoa Walker (Beatrice) form the core Red Hook, Brooklyn family, torn by traditions and a desire to grow and be successful in America.  The extremely hunky and dashing Russell Tovey (Rudolpho) and svelte Michael Zegan (Marco) are the mysterious interloper illegal immigrants from Italy.  Michael Gould (Alfieri) plays the "Greek Chorus" or narrator by lurking most of the show around the outside of the ring explaining what is going to happen.  When he steps in the ring as a participant in the battle, he, too, removes his shoes.

This production is nothing short of pure brilliance.  The 140 or so people in the stage seating, by far, saw an entirely different play than the people out in the standard theater seats.  Those in the balcony quite possibly didn't even see portions of the play.  Regardless, the bloodbath on W45th will leave you shaken.