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A view from the bridge at Vue cinema

May 18, 2016

vftb

It turns out that vue cinema in St.Catherine’s walk- that’s the bit with Debenhams in it- is regularly screening national theatre live performances. It’s great to have the chance to see really top notch theatre locally. Part of me wishes I could go to see a local theatre group tackling something this ambitious, but that’s in no way a criticism of the performance I went to see.

The play, A view from the bridge by Arthur Miller, was a highly strung piece of modernist theatre. There was a real sense of ominousness from start to finish. The audience could feel the impending tragedy long before the scene is even properly set. The actors moved like chess pieces on the stage, each full of their own sense of dramatic potential. The set was minimal. A few lighting effects was as lavish as it got- appropriately for the piece. It meant that the actors suggested their setting, sustaining a real sense of claustrophobia throughout. The other interesting theatre was a single drum beat at moments of narrative tension throughout the play. It did really get the audience on their toes, but over long periods could become wearying.

It’s a simple enough story- Eddie (Mark Strong) is a longshoreman who is overly attached to his niece Catherine (Phoebe Fox) who grows close to one of two Italian immigrants (Emun Elliott and Luke Norris) staying in their home. The plot and themes are given to the audience without complication. It’s not an effort to tease out the ideas from the dialogue. Take the scene where Beatrice (Nicola Walker) tells Catherine how she has to mark her independece and act like a grown woman- nothing is hidden and little is implied. The language is all part of the fun- it’s straightforward enough, a depiction of everyday speech on the New York waterfront some time in the mid 20th century. This isn’t altogether easy theatre though- the themes show deal with taboo subjects, and the piece requires a certain amount of stamina.

There are some really shocking moments here- take the moment when Eddie Kisses his niece and- bizzarely- her lover. Here, complex, powerful emotions lead up to an irrational, spontaneous act. The crowning glory, though, is very close to the end. The struggling bodies on stage tangle together under a red light, looking much like a sculpture by Rodin. I remember thinking that moments like that are a big part of why people make Art. Moments of pure beauty that transmit a powerful energy to the audience. A less dramatic delight is the knowing, worldly lawyer (Michael Gould) who provides narration and ties the piece together.

So yes, it’s well worth checking the listings to see what vue is showing.

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