It’s been a stressful week, Friday night comes along, it’s time to let off some steam as young full-of-life student. So, naturally, I spent it drinking wine at the theatre with my note book and pen. Crazy right? All crappy jokes aside, I really enjoyed my evening watching Dramsoc’s production of Arthur Miller’s A View from A Bridge, at Bristol University’s very own Winston Theatre.
Miller’s masterpiece is about the complexities of family relationships, and the ease of losing oneself within them. Set in 1950’s Brooklyn, the Carbone’s and their adopted niece Katherine, host Beatrice Carbone’s Italian cousins, who want to make a success of themselves in the big city. As a love interest develops between the young Italian and Katherine, Eddie Carbone’s life spirals into an unexpected reality, where his identity as a husband, uncle and a good man are thrown into question.
Setting eyes on an entirely white stage, my friend remarks the settings’ connection with The Young Vic’s production of AVFAB. In 2015, their production also featured a white stage, opening the invitation for colour to then play a metaphorical role. This is not a dig in the slightest, after all, what is theatre if it is not meant to inspire ideas? In fact, Dramsoc's dedication to the the set design is one to be admired. Layers of white, which are gradually torn and tarnished, along with the plot’s progression into darker realities, ultimately increased the performance’s intensity. As much as the arty aesthetic and the addition of the chorus into the action can be appreciated, at times, I feel it undermines one the play’s key themes of subtlety and sometimes overshadows the productions most successful attributes.
Personally, I feel the success of the show lies with the nitty-gritty naturalism at the play’s core. The talented actors delivered engaging performances with different degrees of humour, rage and vulnerability. Their accents were impressive as well. Whether due to their own talent or the attentive detail of their Director Sam Jones, they should be equally commended. Meanwhile, moments between Eddie and his lawyer Alfieri, shone out in their simplicity, allowing Miller's script writing to be truly come to light.
The first class acting couldn't help me from wondering, does the reputation of naturalism as 'boring', lead theatre maker's to decide to add something more? Contemporary Theatre does seem to carry this aura for art needing to have fresh, new and exciting ideas. Yet, the effectiveness of great acting, detailed direction and engaging content goes largely underappreciated and could be used more bravely. A View from A Bridge definitely showed the potential of naturalism, especially in student theatre.