What a pleasure it was to attend the opening night of WAAPA’s performance of Arthur Miller’s two-act play A View from the Bridge. Set in 1950’s waterside Brooklyn, the play follows Eddie, his wife Bea, her niece Catherine, and Bea’s Italian relatives (Marco and Rodolpho) who arrive in America as illegal immigrants. Eddie’s increasing aggression and arrogance towards Rodolpho and Catherine eventually exposes his improper love for Catherine, and leads to his downfall. Skilfully delivered by WAAPA’s third year acting students, under the careful direction of Lawrie Cullen-Tait, this play had me on the edge of my seat.
The two shining stars were Guiseppe Rotondella (Eddie) and his wife Elle Mickel (Bea). Rotondella carried a rawness, grit, and conviction in a naturalistic and relatable performance. Mickel’s portrayal of Bea was warm, yet strong and her argumentative character was wholly and believably invested in the wellbeing of her dysfunctional family.
The modern scenography made use of an extremely minimalistic set that added to the mood and atmosphere. Director Cullen-Tait’s use of other actors as human props to decorate the stage in smaller scenes helped maintain that sense of atmosphere, and prevented the play from becoming static and boring. The one disappointment was the staging – the Roundhouse Theatre’s stage has an audience on three sides – as for much of the play the actors had their backs to the audience (I felt like I was missing out!). The actors’ projected vocals and tone were still able to carry meaning, but it was frustrating that during much of the monologes and heated duologe scenes we were unable to see their faces.
If you love being entertained by seasoned performers and tragic storylines, then this show is a must-see. Whilst Miller is best known for his other plays The Crucible and Death of a Salesman, the characters in A View from the Bridge were the ones that broke my heart. I was extremely and desperately attached to these fictional characters and totally immersed in their lives. The slow moving first act built the tension for a ‘punch’ in the second act, and I can assure you your heart rate and perspiration levels will rise when watching this performance.
Words by Aleasha Sanchez-Lawson
A View from the Bridge runs at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts’ Roundhouse Theatre until 5 May. Tickets available here.