Miller’s tale of clash­ing cul­tures

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

The role of Ed­die Car­bone is one ofthe most cov­eted male roles in theatre, along with Shake­speare’s Richard III and Ten­nessee Wil­liams’ Stan­ley Kowal­ski.

He has been played by Van He­flin, Richard Har­ris and Anthony Quayle and this month Welling­ton’s Gavin Rutherford will bring him to life at Circa Theatre in Arthur Miller’s mas­ter­piece A View From the Bridge.

The metaphor­i­cal bridge is the link be­tween con­trast­ing races, cul­tures, lan­guages and codes.

The Car­bone’s have em­i­grated to Brook­lyn, New York where Ed­die sup­ports his fam­ily and his or­phaned niece, work­ing as a long­shore­man on the wa­ter­front.

Ed­die is hon­our-bound to shel­ter new Si­cil­ian im­mi­grant fam­ily mem­bers, but he can’t han­dle a grow­ing at­trac­tion be­tween one of his guests and his niece.

Di­rec­tor Su­san Wil­son said Car­bone is caught up in two rule sys­tems, the United States pe­nal code and the Si­cil­ian code of hon­our.

Al­though A View From the Bridge is set in 1955 New York, its themes and Miller’s evoca­tive script tran­scend time and place, Wil­son said.

The same sit­u­a­tions seem to keep aris­ing.

The Si­cil­ians had fled Italy and poverty, seek­ing a bet­ter life, just as Syr­i­ans, Iraquis and Afghans were do­ing to­day, she said. With the new life comes an alien cul­ture.

It is the fifth Miller play Wil­son has di­rected.

She was fas­ci­nated by Miller’s re­fined and evoca­tive scripts.

‘‘These plays, where fash­ions might change and so­ci­ety memes might change, they gather irony,’’ she said. ‘‘Have we come any­where? Have we learned any­thing.’’

The nu­anced script looks at work­ing class Amer­i­can so­ci­ety, le­gal sys­tems and codes of be­hav­iour but above all it is, like all Miller’s plays, pri­mar­ily a story of fam­ily re­la­tion­ships with a big love story at its heart.

There are ques­tions over Ed­die’s re­la­tion­ship with his wife, Beatrice, and an ap­par­ently in­ces­tu­ous fas­ci­na­tion with his niece which leads him to an over­pro­tec­tive­ness and jeal­ous rage.

‘‘It’s a fam­ily theme,’’ Wil­son said. ‘‘ I don’t think this is nec­es­sar­ily out of the or­di­nary – it’s just some­thing that hap­pens in fam­i­lies all the time.’’

Miller wrote the story at a time when his own mar­riage to Mary Slat­tery was dis­in­te­grat­ing and Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe was ar­riv­ing on the New York scene to fur­ther strain the al­ready frayed re­la­tion­ship.

The work was orig­i­nally writ­ten in one- act for Broad­way and Miller re-wrote it in two-acts for the West End ver­sion, which is to be staged at Circa.

Ital­ian has a com­par­a­tively limited vo­cab­u­lary com­pared to English, and its speak­ers are more likely to use colourful metaphor­i­cal lan­guage to ex­press them­selves.

Miller was very good at putting that into the play, par­tic­u­larly to make the set­ting quickly clear.

‘‘Orig­i­nally it was writ­ten in verse and some of that lyri­cism re­mains,’’ Wil­son said.

A View From the Bridge opens at Circa Theatre on July 19.

It also fea­tures Jude Gibson, Christo­pher Brougham, Acush­laTara Sut­ton, Paul Wag­gott and Alex Greig.

Happy fam­i­lies: Su­san Wil­son, di­rec­tor of A View from the Bridge, with cast mem­bers Acushla-Tara Sut­ton, left, Gavin Rutherford and Jude Gibson.

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