No half measures on timeless tale
by SANDI MILLER
8th August 2022
TWO THINGS will forever define Arthur Miller.
The first is his marriage with Marilyn Monroe, which for some overshadows the second: that Miller is considered one of the greatest dramatists of the twentieth century.
A View from the Bridge sits proudly among his string of works, such as Death of a Salesman and The Crucible, staged and studied for their brilliant, insightful and timeless texts.
So much so that Miller was awarded The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, one of the richest prizes in the arts, given annually to “a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life”. Warrandyte Theatre Company has presented Miller’s precious gift with an uncompromising flair.
The first thing that hits you is the beautiful staging, with the Brooklyn apartment building, the docks and the lawyer’s office blending seamlessly to support the action.
The seasoned principal cast grasped their characters by the horns and made mastering the iconic Brooklyn, and Italian accents look effortless.
Playing the narrator/lawyer Alfieri, WTC regular Don Nicholson was engaging and measured in his performance, leading the audience through the fateful events with a persona that exudes 1950s New York small-time lawyer, reminiscent of something from a Bogart film noir. Also, familiar faces on the Warrandyte stage, Tony Clayton and Simone Kiefer produced some powerful performances as Eddie and Beatrice.
The beauty of this text is the light and shade, explored deftly by Tony and Simone, hitting just the right notes at just the right time, Eddie’s anger and frustration were at times visceral, and Bea’s heartbreak at the deterioration of her family was likewise palpable.
Newcomers Kiera Edelstein and James Banger played Catherine and Rodolpho, whose romance enrages Catherine’s over-protective uncle Eddie.
Kiera expertly explored the light and shade of Catherine and her complex relationship with Eddie, while James’ Rodolpho as the new immigrant provided some much-needed laugh-out-loud moments amidst moments that made the audience audibly gasp.
Paul Wanis makes his Warrandyte debut as Marco, Rodolpho’s brother, who stands up to Eddie when he takes his objections to the young ones’ relationship too far.
His confrontation with Eddie at the close of act one could be considered among the most powerful performances to grace the Warrandyte stage in many years.
The supporting cast was a mixture of new and returning faces playing minor walk-on roles with as much thoughtfulness as the lead cast.
In these roles, David Tynan, Adrian Rice, Jack Stringer, Michael Swann, Lara King and Kerry Walsh provided a depth to the production that cannot be underestimated.
Director Grant Purdy staged this classic without compromise, there are no rough edges, and the innovative set design draws the audience into the action.
The audience cabaret seating has been retained for this production as a sensible COVID measure, but I, for one, find it lovely and hope it is kept in the future.
Opening night was sold out, and, as we go to print, tickets are getting scarce for the remainder of the run, so make sure to book yourself a seat for the final week at trybooking.com/BYZKR before it closes on August 13 – you don’t want to miss this one.
The light and shade continue in the next production with Calendar Girls, at times titillating but with a sobering undercurrent, which hits the boards from September 23 for nine performances.
Then the much-anticipated return of The Follies in November. This year’s production is still forming, so if you want to be part of it, head to the writers’ meeting on August 19 or the “induction” in early October, both at the Mechanics’ Institute Hall.