Friday, 28 February 2014

Review: A View from the Bridge - Lancaster Footlights

A View from the Bridge
The cast

Performed by Lancaster Footlights
directed by Carol Williamson
at The Grand Theatre,  St Leonardgate, Lancaster
Tuesday 18 to Saturday 22 February 2014 at 7.30pm.

A View From The Bridge, Arthur Miller’s 1955 play about a dysfunctional family living in Brooklyn, New York, tells the story of longshoreman (dock worker) Eddie Carbone and the arrival of his Sicilian cousins from across the Atlantic to make a new life for themselves and their families back home.  

The tale is straightforward enough: one of the boys falls in love with Eddie’s attractive and orphaned niece, Beatrice, and her guardian does not approve.  As the protagonists stand on their own honour, things only deteriorate.

Sounds like Greek Tragedy?  And so it is, in essence.  Miller’s tightly-written and elegiac dialogue follows the classical form to describe the everyday domestic and political situation of McCarthyite, witch-hunt, America after World War II.  

Lancaster Footlights, the Grand’s resident theatre company, turned in an excellent production of this masterpiece of understated action and nemesis.  Directed with a sure hand by Carol Williamson, the cast of nine main characters (with a number of smaller roles) delivered distinctive, strong performances.  Tom Ledsham was outstanding as the anti-hero Eddie and Peter Sampson was also a strong ‘Chorus’ as well as Eddie’s stoic attorney.  The casting was completely apposite.

American accents, difficult to deliver with fluency and ease, were spot-on.  The drama was played out on an effective, divided set, suitably claustrophobic and open on each of its two sides.  Costumes, props and atmosphere were wonderfully and consistently evocative of the period.  The ensemble playing was first-rate, as the momentum and excitement of the drama played itself out to its inevitable climax.  The varied pace of the emotional shifts was beautifully controlled as befits the tragic underlay of the play.

On the night we attended there was a party of pupils from Morecambe High School who were very well-behaved during the performance and contributed intelligently to the useful questions-and-answers session afterwards.  

Also remarkable was the extent to which Lancaster Footlights has involved actors from both Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria.  I have long been advocating this ‘town and gown’ co-operation, and it is a credit to all three organisations that the three bodies are working together with considerable success.

Copyright © Michael Nunn
28 February 2014

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