Set in the1950s in the dirt poor area of Red Hook, in the shadow of Brooklyn Bridge, Arthur Miller’s play fairly crackles with tension and emotion. Eddie Carbone has brought up his niece Catherine, and has ambitions for her to become a stenographer and mix with a better class of people. He develops an unhealthy obsession with her and is resistant to her growing independence.
The tangled relationships and the tensions between the characters are sharply portrayed by an expert cast. Jonathan Guy Lewis plays Eddie and his portrayal of the man’s emotional journey through the play is quite brilliant. His wife Beatrice is played by Teresa Banham who oozes Brooklyn in her perfect accent and every nuance of her body language. Rudolpho (James Rastall) and Marco (Philip Cairns) are illegal immigrants who have left the grinding poverty of Italy to seek a better life in America, Marco to send money home to his wife and children and Rudolpho to explore his talents as a singer.
Inevitably Catherine (Daisy Boulton), who has been excessively sheltered by Eddie, falls for Rudolpho and Eddie becomes increasingly jealous. As the tension between Eddie and Rudolpho grows, Eddie confronts the young couple, he kisses Catherine and then in an attempt to expose Rudolpho as gay, he kisses him too. He consults the lawyer Alfieri, and asks him to find a way to prove that Rudolpho only wants to marry Catherine to gain citizenship. Alfieri advises Eddie to let Catherine grow up and marry. In desperation Eddie phones the immigration services and reports Rudolpho and Marco who are detained. While released on bail, Marco confronts Eddie, a fight ensues and Eddie is stabbed with his own knife and dies.
There are obvious parallels with the current immigration debate in the media in the run up to the general election, but the dominant theme of the play is the tangled dynamics which spin around Eddie’s obsessive love for Catherine.
This is a brilliant production, really well acted by all the main characters and one which will stick in my mind and, judging by the reaction of the audience last night has made an impression on many.