NEW YORK (AP) — If you think you've seen Arthur Miller's dark classic "A View From the Bridge" enough times, think again.
The muscular production that opened Thursday night at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre is a stunning, imaginative theatrical experience, an impassioned interpretation that really brings the heat to Miller's gripping drama.
Imported from London's Young Vic after winning three Olivier Awards, the streamlined, no-holds-barred presentation marks an explosive Broadway debut for renowned European director Ivo van Hove and his longtime design collaborator, Jan Versweyveld.
Miller's 1955 play about working-class Italian-Americans in Brooklyn was most recently revived on Broadway in 2010 with Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson. Now van Hove has stripped it down to a stark set that resembles a boxing ring. During nearly two tense hours without intermission, the barefoot cast members warily circle one another under bright lights, while a dissonant soundtrack increases the tension and unease.
Anti-hero Eddie Carbone is embodied with driven intensity by hawk-browed Mark Strong, also making his Broadway debut. Strong is a brooding, glowering force as the flawed longshoreman who initiates his own tragic doom over a relentless obsession with his attractive young niece Catherine (Phoebe Fox, whose initially kittenish portrayal matures as the tragedy unfolds).
"His eyes were like tunnels," sadly notes Eddie's lawyer and confidant, Alfieri (Michael Gould), who narrates the story with increasing dismay. Gould pulls us into the play with his sorrowful attitude, at times curling into a fetal position (as does Catherine) as if to avoid the growing unrest.
Alfieri informs us right from the start that things will not turn out well, musing that in an earlier time, "another lawyer, quite differently dressed, heard the same complaint and sat there as powerless as I, and watched it run its bloody course."
Nicola Walker brings a clear-eyed, modern fierceness and sorrow to the role of Eddie's loyal wife, Beatrice. The arrival from Italy of Beatrice's cousins, two illegal immigrants hiding in the Carbone household, is the catalyst for Eddie's downfall.
His macho jealousy of handsome, gentle young Rodolpho, (given a sunny, open personality by Russell Tovey), causes the normally stolid Eddie to slow-boil in a permanent jealous rage, eventually taking a series of self-destructive actions that won't be reversible.
Onstage tension grows ominously palpable as Eddie battles with everyone he loves and everything he holds dear, including his own reputation and code of ethics, rejecting all attempts by his family and friends to stop his destructive behavior.
Even Catherine becomes repulsed by her once-adored uncle's bullying, which leads to ugly confrontations with Rodolpho and his brother Marco (Michael Zegen, wrapped in a watchful and rightly pessimistic air.)
Eventually all the actors enfold one another in a haunting, anguished tableau, a brilliant visual summation by van Hove of how people in this close-knit community must stand or fall together.