'Hero's journey' across the bridge of cultural divide
A View From The Bridge, the second in Tobacco Factory's spring season, like their first production Macbeth is a tale of tragic downfall - a weak man falling to temptation. Arthur Miller used a challenge close to his own experience when he was called on by the Committee of UnAmerican Activities to name suspected communists in 1957 (he refused, earning himself a conviction for contempt of court) and set his story in Brooklyn docks where a close-knit community of largely Italian immigrants shelters and protects the 'illegals' working with them - mainly their own relations. Director Mark Tweddle chose the play for its Bristol dockland connection, but there's a wider relevance too in these Windrush days. In this setting, the story focuses on Eddie (Mark Letheren), housing his wife's illegal cousins (Aaron Anthony as Marco and Joseph Tweedale as Rudolpho) and increasingly jealous of the relationship of Rudolpho with his neice Catherine (Laura Waldren). All three of these young people are superbly played - the brothers both creating highlight solo moments - and Katy Stephens as Eddie's wife is massively impressive: every word she says seems newly thought and uttered, each reaction viscerally heartfelt. Simon Armstron's lawyer has powerful quiet presence in his Tiresias role, perceiving and foretelling, and if there's any aspect less than excellent to me it's the evenness of Eddie's descent: not the tragedy of a hero misunderstanding his challenge, Eddie was frankly creepy from the start. But the two-and-a-half hours never dragged for a moment: this is a production with energy and impact, a brilliant show, sensationally performed, with every aspect of design effective - the standing ovation at the end on Tuesday night was well deserved. Definitely recommended.