Tag Archives: Philip Cairns

Views From A Bum on A View From The Bridge

A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE

Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Thursday 26th March, 2015

 

Eddie Carbone is a hothead but a decent fella. He hasn’t got much but he has brought up his niece as though she is his own daughter. He welcomes his wife’s Italian cousins into his home when they arrive as illegal immigrants looking for work. Except perhaps he is a little too close to his niece, a little too possessive.

When new arrival Rodolpho turns niece Catherine’s head, Eddie can’t handle it, and the fuse paper is lit in Arthur Miller’s explosive powder keg of a play.

Jonathan Guy Lewis is utterly compelling as the volatile Eddie, whose emotions are never far from the surface. He is supported by an excellent cast: Daisy Boulton’s Catherine and Teresa Banham’s Beatrice are strong characters, although dominated by the man in their life. James Rastall catches the eye as the handsome Rodolpho, with his bright head of blond hair, his snake hips and animated conversation. His rendition of ‘Paper Doll’ is both hilarious and seductive. And he cooks, and makes clothes – what more could anyone want? – but he also brings out the worst in his host: Eddie’s jealousy.

We see all this from the remove of a narrator – Michael Brandon as Alfieri, a lawyer. It’s a framing device that leads us into the slum neighbourhood, in what is now a period piece. Brandon lends authenticity to the production but I have to say, on all sides, the Noo Yoik accents are particularly good. Liz Ashcroft’s evocative set – all telegraph poles and a fire escape – gives us enough of an impression of the place, while Paul Pyant’s lighting keeps things dingy and grim. Director Stephen Unwin offsets the narrated passages with freeze-frames: despite the naturalism, it is a story we are being told. It’s a gripping production, superbly presented and performed.

And Miller’s writing has a relevance today with immigration being such a hot topic. We are shown a human face to the migrant workers, desperate to make life better for the folks they have had to leave behind.   When it goes belly-up for Rodolpho and Marco (Philip Cairns) we understand exactly what is at stake.

The tragedy is inevitable but nonetheless shocking – electrifying in fact. Eddie may only be a king in his mind but Miller shows us, even the ordinary man can be brought down by a fatal flaw in his nature.

The production is the result of a consortium of theatres, sharing resources and, of course, the cost. It’s the way forward for regional productions and an excellent way to ensure high quality work being seen outside of the capital.

aviewfromthebridge-sq

Advertisements

Phoning it in

DIAL M FOR MURDER

The REP, Birmingham, Tuesday 13th May, 2014

 

Frederick Knott’s taut 1950s thriller is given an excellent revival in Lucy Bailey’s production, currently playing at the REP.  It is very much a period piece and Bailey does well to preserve the 1950s feel while giving her production a fresh contemporary-retro atmosphere.  This is due in no small part to Mike Britton’s glamorous red set with its stylish 50s furniture and translucent walls and curtains.  There are two revolves: on one stands the furniture; from the other, a curtain hangs.  Both revolve slowly, almost imperceptibly, at various times during the action – it’s like seeing the inner workings of a machine, the cogs of Knott’s plot at work, as the villain sets his wicked plan in motion and the playwright winds up the tension.

Daniel Betts is suitably urbane and smarmy as the villainous, betrayed husband Tony Wendice, who enlists old school acquaintance and bit of a wrong ‘un, Captain Lesgate (a very good Robert Perkins) to bump off his cheating wife.  The plan hinges upon a telephone call at the crucial moment – hence the title – and when the violence takes place, it is all the more shocking for its stylisation.  Fight direction by Philip d’Orleans is complemented by unsettling contributions from lighting designer Chris Davey and sound design by Mic Pool.

Even though I have seen this play staged before, the new lease of life given to it by this production, meant I was still enthralled and thrilled.  Bailey doesn’t let the stylish presentation get in the way of Knott’s superbly crafted script.

Kelly Hotten is appealing as intended victim Mrs Wendice, looking every inch the 50s starlet under Chris Davey’s cinematic lighting.  Philip Cairns is her lover Max, making it easy to see why Mrs Wendice prefers him to her husband.  Christopher Timothy tops off this tight ensemble as determined Inspector Hubbard who worries away at every detail of the case like a dog with a bone, until the truth is brought to light.

Wordy passages of exposition are counterbalanced with wordless moments of action – Knott knew exactly what he was doing and this production clearly demonstrates why this play is a masterpiece of the genre.

Image

Kelly Hutton is asked about her PPI (Photo: Manuel Harlan)