A View from the Bridge

Good theatre doesn’t necessarily have to change the world, sometimes it is enough just to entertain. This is the case with A View from the Bridge at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews. This Arthur Miller classic, performed by a cast of university students, is a charming performance that, while not particularly polished, still makes for an engaging night.

A View from the Bridge is not a short play, but is so engrossing that this performance seemed to go by in an instant.

Directors Louis Catliff and Elliot Douglas should be commended for their choice not to attempt to age their student actors with caked-on makeup. If done poorly, this destroys suspension of disbelief. Instead, View relies on the actors to portray the differences in their characters, with resounding success. Gareth Owen, as Eddie, utterly captures the age of his character, moving and speaking with perfect gait and pacing. Eilidh Mackinnon also superbly shows the weariness of the long suffering Beatrice.

A View from the Bridge is not a short play, but is so engrossing that this performance seemed to go by in an instant. It is especially strong in the moments of simmering tension, the characters facing off with each other- Eddie bristling at the threat to the comfortable complacency of his family life, Marco (Jonathan Hewitt) at the threat to his and his brother’s honour. One of the most powerful scenes from View, when Marco demonstrates his physical strength to Eddie after catching onto his malice, is an ‘on the edge of your seat’ moment that shows all of the actors involved at their best. It perfectly encapsulates the inherent hostility and motivational disconnect between new immigrants and second/third generation Americans that Arthur Miller so aptly understood.

Unfortunately, View is also rife with small problems that together destroy the overall polish. Accents are sadly under-rehearsed; although the Brooklyn characters are fairly consistent with theirs, the Italian cousins are not as steady – Marco’s wavers throughout, and Rodolpho (Oli Savage) would have been better off not trying. In addition to this, although the stage is well used, all of the actors seem insecure in the space, though this may have been simply first night jitters.

Although some technical issues harmed the flow of View, there was still much good to be appreciated in it. A final commendation must be given to Seb Bridges, in the role of Alfieri. His commanding and sympathetic presence lulls the audience into the story, his delivery of lines so sharp and yet compassionate that it would have been amenable just for him to stand in his spotlight and read the entire play as a monologue for two hours. Nevertheless, the entire cast and crew should be proud of their efforts which, although hampered by inevitable student-theatre struggles, still brought together an entertaining and enjoyable performance of this timeless play. 

Reviews by Ali Schultz

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The Blurb

A View from the Bridge focuses on the life of a working class family; Eddie, Beatrice and their orphaned niece, Catherine, living in 1950’s Red Hook, New York.

It is a seemingly peaceful home that slowly descends into chaos with the arrival of two Italian cousins, Marco and Rodolpho, who have migrated illegally to America in search of a better life.

As Catherine falls for the charming Rodolpho, the cracks in the Carbone family begin to show, and the nature of her uncle’s love for her is brutally questioned.

Mermaids Performing Arts Fund is run by University of St Andrews students and supports student theatre and performance. Take your pick from drama, musicals, and comedies as well as the very best of student writing. Every year, Mermaids puts on over thirty fantastic shows, including two at the Byre this spring.

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