JOYCE MCMILLAN on A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, and THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME at the Festivsl Theatre, Edinburgh, for The Scotsman 2.5.15.
A View From The Bridge 4 stars ****
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time 4 stars ****
THE LYCEUM THEATRE IS IN fine creative form, the programming at Edinburgh’s King’s and Festival Theatres has never been stronger; and the result is the occasional week like this, when Edinburgh theatregoers are truly spoiled for choice, with a range of three magnificent full-scale shows. The Touring Consortium’s current version of the mighty Arthur Miller classic A View From The Bridge – created by director Stephen Unwin for a consortium of theatres across seven UK cities – is not a showy production; it lacks the high-profile radicalism of Ivo Van Hove’s award-winning London version.
For those who value Miller’s passionate commitment to the drama of the common man, though – and to the mighty tragic themes that can pulse through the most ordinary working-class lives – this is a truly memorable production, made more so by the extraordinary timeliness of this tale about illegal immigration, and its explosive impact on the family life of Miller’s hero, hard-working New York longshoreman Eddie Carbone.
It’s impossible not to be reminded of the latest generation of desperate “boat people”, as we watch Eddie and his wife welcome Beatrice’s poverty-stricken newly-arrived cousins from Italy, and hear how they will be given work so long as they owe money to the people who trafficked them; and impossible not to share Eddie’s agony, as his raging, unspoken jealousy of Rodolpho’s growing love-affair with his adored niece, Catherine, leads him to an act of betrayal that breaks every rule of the tight-knit migrant community in which he lives. Jonathan Guy Lewis is a vulnerable, heartbreaking Eddie, Teresa Banham quietly superb as Beatrice; and Michael Brandon is a helpess, all-seeing narrator as the lawyer Alfieri, who senses the inevitability of Eddie’s tragedy, but can only watch it unfold.
At the Festival Theatre, meanwhile, director Marianne Elliott and designers Bunny Christie, Paule Constable and Finn Ross move to the cutting-edge of 21st century theatre technology to create their terrific stage version of Mark Haddon’s award-winning 2003 novel The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, a monologue story told by Christopher, a 15-year-old boy with severe Asperger’s Syndrome, who has to learn how to begin to shape his own life when the adults around him go into emotional melt-down.
Haddon’s story is superb, a very 21st century coming-of-age tale about a heroic struggle to deal with the noise, stress and fragmentation of our time; and playwright Simon Stephens, with the production team, creates a riveting on-stage world of electronic light, images and fragmented words that conjures up the inner life of Christopher’s astonishing and beautiful mind, while never overwhelming the human story, acted out by a cast of twelve superbly choreographed by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett. Joshua Jenkins – alternating with Chris Ashby – is unforgettable as Christopher; and at the end, as a coda, you can see the show’s mighty cube-like set functioning at full power, as Christopher shows us how he solved the maths theorem that won him his A* starred A level, and set him – we hope – on the path to a well-earned new life.
A View From The Bridge at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh final performances today. The Curious Incident Of the Dog In The Night-Time at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh untl 9 May.