It's hard not to think of the all too recent tragedies of migrants seeking sanctuary while watching Stephen Unwin's mighty new production of Arthur Miller's 1956 play for the Touring Consortium Theatre Company. In Eddie Carbone's gradual betrayal of all the blue collar codes he's lived by with his wife Beatrice and orphaned niece Catherine, after all, is a global tragedy played out in one cramped living room in a poverty-stricken New York neighbourhood.
Not that such a thesis is pushed too far, as Eddie's insular life as king of his tenement castle is shaken up by the arrival of Beatrice's Italian cousins, Marco and Rodolpho, a couple of 'submarines' who travel to America illegally. Where Philip Cairns' Marco is a grafter, James Rastall's Rodolpho is a blonde and seemingly feckless aesthete whose ability to sing, dance, cook a meal and sew a skirt gives Daisy Boulton's initially guileless Catherine a glimpse of something beyond her increasingly awkward relationship with Eddie.
Like many who live in fear of a so-called other, Eddie is emasculated, striking out with misguided machismo as he attempts to flex out of shape muscles, broken by years of servitude to dockland mobsters, back to life. As played here by Jonathan Guy Lewis on a stage flanked by designer Liz Ashcroft's images of telegraph poles, Eddie swaggers and shuffles like a wounded bear in denial and usurped by more exotic creatures. With Michael Brandon's Alfieri an all-seeing street-smart oracle and Teresa Banham lending Beatrice a put-upon dignity, Miller's fanfare for the common man and woman suggests that succumbing to divide and rule tactics in times of austerity does nobody any favours.
The Herald, April 30th 2015