A Different View from the Bridge. 28 May 2014

How a Miller classic was given a new lease of life by a creative team and cast of magicians. 

In this year of great plays, the best of them leave me stunned by the possibility that what I have just seen actually just happened, live, right in front of my eyes. A View from the Bridge was one of those nights. However this basic emotional response evolved into something far more complex as we made our way home across Waterloo Bridge. We were definitely still processing what we had just witnessed. The rug had been pulled out from under us and we weren’t sure what to think any more.

Actors and Directors make choices all the time. A play is a point of possibility and sometimes, even after the curtain has come down, there is no such luxury as a fait accompli. This is not a production that helps its audience know how to feel. Of course every response is individual and interpretation is entirely subjective. However when you are led to question what you thought you knew without feeling manipulated, it can lead to a deeper desire to comprehend the experience itself.

The simplicity of people talking, not talking, being in the space, being in specific proximity to each other in that space, looking at each other, not looking at each other, is one thing; but somehow what this production achieves is something of such complexity that it feels like magic.

You can hear feelings and you can touch thoughts. There is something unnaturally natural at play here, a force and a construct that comes in and out of your consciousness and makes you slightly paranoid. 'Can everyone else see this? Are you hearing what I’m hearing? Seeing what I’m seeing?' In this very communal environment - whichever way you turn you can see the audience – the play is talking directly and only to you, and you have to deal with it alone. It’s intense to say the least.

I think I’m still processing the experience a bit. I’ve moved on from what I think about the choices of characterisation and plot and story, of hubris, and I’m back simply looking at people inside a box. I’m hearing a score that transcends music and becomes a character in its own right. I’m seeing light without being aware of its source or boundaries. I’m watching a story I thought I knew unfold, only to find it’s not the one I knew at all, but a brand new one. And, without wishing to sound crass in any way, I’m moving beyond how a play was fundamentally altered without changing a word, and being led to wonder whether theatre itself has changed in some way. And that’s not something that happens every day.

Clair Chamberlain

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