Posts Tagged ‘young vic’

Cooper’s London

April 30, 2014





Bridge Over Troubled Waters

The production of A View from the Bridge view from the bridgerecently opened at the Young Vic is one of the strongest and most compelling you can see in London at the moment and shouldn’t be missed. Mark Strong gives a painful, powerful and totally gripping performance as the tragic Eddie Carbone that builds to a towering climax from its inception as an almost self-consciously ordinary, blinkered guy; by the finale he is a man of heroic, tragic stature. Strong’s is a brilliantly controlled performance. The niece, Catherine, for whom he has incestuous feelings, and his fox. strong, walker
wife, Beatrice, whose love for him and anger at his blindness to his tragic flaw are powerfully conveyed, by Phoebe Fox and Nicola Walker. They are as strong and importantly central to the story as Eddie himself; one leaves the theatre with memories of many gestures, many readings, that are superb.

The problem of Catherine’s own sexuality and unconscious flirtatiousness are clearly transmitted; and a suggestion of Eddie’s complex attractions not only to his niece but to Rodolfo, the man she comes to love, give more depth to the play. These are complex but inarticulate characters who develop in self-awareness and maturity as the play unfolds. Catherine and Beatrice in particular come across as people of inner strength, of real understanding and of deep emotion. Luke Norris is a suitably attractive and naïve Rodolfo when he arrives from Sicily, and he grows in understanding as the play develops without entirely losing his vulnerability. Emun Elliott is frighteningly obsessive and menacing as a figure of immoveable vengeance by the end.ivo van hovePraise must be given for all this to director Ivo van Hove who is clearly responsible for the overall concept of the way this production interprets Arthur Miller’s text. He creates with this production a strong appreciation of the miller2true stature of this play.

The performance takes place on a thrust stage and uses the Narrator—a kind of stand-in for the Greek Chorus—in multiple roles: to read his own lines and play out his scenes as the lawyer whom Eddie consults; to tell us the story after the event; and to read some of Miller’s stage directions. It’s an inspired concept that avoids pace-breaking scene changes and allows the story to unfold smoothly and almost cinematically with accelerating impact. Van Hove clearly has great empathy for the play and sympathy with all the characters, and doesn’t miss a beat or a nuance. Eddie becomes a figure of true tragic stature, and the staging of the ending itself is wrenching (and not to be revealed in advance). Let’s just say it not only works for this text but evokes the great Greek plays of bloody revenge. The versweyvelddesign by Jan Versweyveld and the use of sound effects almost as electronic music to create and increase a sense of tension and foreboding are additional reasons to admire this production.

Miller began writing about the world of the New York docks when he worked with Elia Kazan on a screenplay called The Hook, a project that went on to become On the Waterfront, written by Budd Schulberg. This was after Kazan had named names for the House Un-American Activities Committee and, as Miller saw it, had sold out to McCarthy-ism, something Miller couldn’t forgive or forget; and which, it seems HUACto me, must have informed his concept of Eddie Carbone’s betrayal of family and community in A View from the Bridge. The story itself was apparently a true one that was told to Miller by a lawyer who worked with the longshoremen.

The play has, on the whole, played second fiddle to Death of a Salesman and The Crucible, over the years; especially after its initial failure as a verse play. But this production certainly proves that it stands with Arthur Miller’s best and that it is also one of the icons of the twentieth century.

A View from the Bridge is at the Young Vic,
Waterloo, London until 7 June 2014.
Monday – Saturday (except 21 Apr and 5 May): 7.30pm
Wednesday & Saturday matinees (except 5, 9, 12 Apr): 2.30pm
Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes without an interval

Tickets: £10, £19.50, £25, £35

Fearless (Re)Discovery

August 8, 2012


People who have been going to the Gate Theatre in London regularly know about Carrie Cracknell the director. But attending her production of A Doll’s House at the Young Vic has made me put her in the category of directors whose work I want to follow.

There were many exciting things about this interpretation — not least the very intelligent and dramatic adaptation by Simon Stephens, who was doing Ibsen’s play for the fourth time. This time he has certainly cracked it, and the set and costumes by Ian MacNeill and Gabrielle Dalton completely enhance his concept. This is a reading that makes you think about how revolutionary the play must have been to its first audiences. Cracknel places it in its original period (it was first produced in 1879), but the set itself is a kind of overgrown late-Victorian early-modernist doll’s house inhabited by the characters, a house that turns when people move from room to room so that the action is always near the audience. The performances of Hattie Morahan as Nora, Dominic Rowan as Torvald and Susannah Wise as Kristine, in particular, are astonishing in their detail and how well they convey the various emotions—or lack of same. And the sense of the family and its situation is very comprehensively and intensely conveyed.

But the real discovery is clearly Carrie Cracknell, who has made of this play something fresh, astonishing and strong. The night I went the audience actually gasped at times, it was so involved and somehow so surprised, and even laughed in many places, reminding one of the elements of black comedy in Ibsen that often get overlooked. The sense of ensemble, of everyone on that stage not only inhabiting his or her role but working with and off the others, is very potent. With its swirling and twirling set, it was a brilliantly choreographed production. Nobody tripped and it was only afterwards that I wondered at the sheer audacity of the technique. It was utterly absorbing. I can hardly wait to see what Carrie Cracknell takes on next and how she handles it; and I will keep you informed in good time.

A Doll’s House played at the Young Vic in London until 4 August,
but I would not be surprised if there is a subsequent transfer
to a suitable West End  theatre.                                   —MC

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