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A View From the Bridge review at Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol – ‘an outstanding update’

The cast of A View From the Bridge at Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol. Photo: Mark Dawson The cast of A View From the Bridge at Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol. Photo: Mark Dawson
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The ground-breaking new company of players at Bristol`s Tobacco Factory has set a formidable quality mark in its inaugural season, with this thrilling fresh look at Arthur Miller`s masterwork A View From the Bridge.

Artistic director Mike Tweddle believes the tragic downfall of New York longshoreman Eddie Carbone cannot be separated from the immigrant community in which he lives. So he has held a 10-week `Get On Stage` course for 26 first-time actors, aged 20 to 70, with five groups joining the professional players in turn in ensemble roles.

Add an in-the-round approach that lends an immersive aura to the high emotions at play – and Tweddle has mirrored the 1955 Miller classic in today`s strident economic migrant headlines.

Carbone is one of the most challenging roles in modern theatre. Mark Letheren gives a stunning performance, seeing him as a troubled figure right from the moment he provides sanctuary for illegal Italian immigrants Marco and Rodolpho (contrastingly played by Aaron Anthony and Joseph Tweedale).

Rodolpho, who Carbone views as worryingly effeminate, forms an immediate romantic attraction with his 17-year-old niece Catherine, whose bewilderment allied to her burgeoning sexuality is engagingly captured by Laura Waldren, making her professional debut.

Carbone`s own unhealthy sexual interest in her can only end in disaster, witnessed with growing distress both by his loyal wife Beatrice, given both inner and outer strength by Katy Stephens, and Simon Armstrong`s increasingly anguished lawyer/narrator, the one-man Greek chorus to this unfolding tragedy.

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Verdict
Outstanding update on one of the great plays of the 20th century that places renewed emphasis on immigrant community tensions 
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