Review: Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge (starring Mark Strong), at the Young Vic Theatre

We are in early April and I might as well pack and go home now. Because I won’t see anything like the Young Vic production of A View From The Bridge for the rest of the year. At this point this feels exhilarating and a little bit depressing, but the production is performed until beginning of June, and I will definitely see it again. With this public service announcement out of the way – I will say it once, book a ticket – we will proceed.

Mark Strong (Eddie), Nicola Walker (Beatrice), Phoebe Fox (Catherine) and Luke Norris (Rodolpho). Photo by Jan Versweyveld

Mark Strong (Eddie), Nicola Walker (Beatrice), Phoebe Fox (Catherine) and Luke Norris (Rodolpho). Photo by Jan Versweyveld

People will describe the production as stylised and stripped back, but the result is the opposite of absence. On a bare stage – part courtyard, part shipyard (at the start of the play), part prison with walls not fully erected – emotions expand to fill the space in a pressing, almost unbearable way. The production exists in a place where a whole layer of skin is missing. I was hyperaware of all sensations: the movement of actors on stage appeared intuitive but the images were iconic. The music was heartbeat, full of blood and dread. None of these things were distracting, they opened up the senses for the real event, Arthur Miller’s play, one of the masterpieces of the twentieth century. The raw quality of first and last scenes bookended the production magnificently, with sex and death and desperation hanging in the air.

Mark Strong, twelve years off the stage (and if we wait another twelve years, it will be a crime), is a devastating presence. Continue reading

Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the National Theatre

Paul Ritter (Ed Boone) and Luke Treadway (Christopher Boone). Photo Manuel Harlan

The National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is directed by Marianne Elliott, adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best selling, much loved book. Clearly much of the praise that will follow (and there will be lots of it) belongs to them. But also I wanted to get their names out of the way, because, as with the best productions, plays and stories, I don’t want to talk about writers and directors. I want to talk about the story itself and the world it has created.

It is often said that The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a story through the eyes of Christopher, a teenager who has Asperger’s syndrome. The play is not so much the world through his eyes but his world: a tangible, emotional, supremely interesting world, with many things still beyond his experience. This world is so richly realised that we, the audience, don’t want to leave it behind: the consensus among my friends was we didn’t want the play to end. Continue reading