After a week of sex and mothers, New Theatre’s third in-house production transitions to the polar opposite with the first of the season’s classics, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge. Impact talks to director Gus Herbert to discuss his adaptation of the well-known classic.
What’s the play about?
The play follows Eddie Carbone who is a Longshoreman working at the docks. He has his wife, Beatrice, and his niece, Catherine, and they’re a very close-knit family. Two of Beatrice’s cousins come over from Sicily. One of them falls in love with Catherine which forces Eddie to act towards the unnatural feelings he has for Catherine, and goes out of his way to break up their relationship, by very extreme means.
Arthur Miller has written many plays which are now regarded as classics, what made you decide to stage A View from the Bridge in particular?
Arthur Miller is a fantastic playwright and I’ve worked on one of his plays before, just not in the capacity of director. For me, this one is the most translatable for Nottingham New Theatre. The themes it brings out are very relatable: masculinity, femininity, the idea of honour, and the patriarchal structure of 1950’s America. Also the characters are absolutely fantastic. You have six very strong, highly motivated characters throughout who clash in so many different ways. It’s exciting to work on!
Did you use any past productions as inspiration?
I went to see the Mark Strong Young Vic production, and a few of my actors have managed to watch it. It wasn’t necessarily inspiration, but having watched it we have realised how different our interpretation is in terms of plot and characters, which was a shock given how successful their production was. I really enjoyed it but, watching ours, it has become something completely different. The chemistry between the characters is almost the exact opposite of what it was in the Young Vic production. We’ve been influenced in our design by it, we’ve stripped it back, which is something I tend do with a lot of my plays, creating an ethereal feel to the house we are making.
How have you gone about mimicking the 50’s era considering we are now living in a very modern, technical society?
Because the stage is minimalist there isn’t a lot of detail, so it doesn’t really depict a certain era. However, our costume represents the 1950’s so we’ve tried to bring it out in costume more than anything else. We’ve been working towards scenes where certain characters are obnoxiously dominant over the women which isn’t nice, but it has been written for a reason.
Have there been any limitations that you or the cast have faced?
Accents were a problem to begin with as some have got them but a few have had trouble, they were stopping in the middle of scenes to correct themselves etc., but it was better they did that than trying to figure it out by themselves. The biggest issue we’ve had is space because there are two separate spaces on stage which has been difficult to replicate in rehearsals because no room we have had has been as big as the auditorium. So, distancing, entrances, and exits were initially tricky.
Describe your play in a sentence.
A powerful depiction of the inevitable.
A View From The Bride will be running at Nottingham New Theatre from Wednesday 11th November – Saturday 14th November. For more information see here.