Miller wrote what is in essence a classic Greek tragedy for the 1950s, set in the immigrant Sicilian community huddled into tenement blocks near the docks bordering Brooklyn Bridge. The chorus, commenting on but not really being able to influence the action, is represented by the lawyer Alfieri played with understated authority by Roger Delves-Broughton.
Michael Vale’s bleak setting – simply furnished rooms surmounted by girders and caged in with mesh – is peopled by silent members of the community who only impinge on the drama at its climax. To the forefront is the living-room of the flat rented by Eddie (Tim Treslove) and his wife Beatrice (Gina Isaac). It’s a haven, but not an isolated one.
Into it flood two illegal immigrants, cousins of Beatrice. Luciano Dodero is a fine Marco; you can believe in his need to earn money to send home to his wife for their sick son. Pete Ashmore brings Rodolpho – young, blonde, extrovert, eager for this new world and so (perhaps – but not necessaril – innocently) dangerous – to coruscating life.
But the towering performance is that of Treslove as Eddie, so desperate in his emotional entanglement with the teenage niece he has brought up as his almost-daughter that he calls down his own Nemesis, that dark goddess of destruction and retribution. Isaac matches him as the wife who sees things far too clearly for her own comfort and her scenes with Ella Vale’s sparky Catherine are beautifully paced.
Janice Dunn’s production allows for us to laugh as well as experience catharsis. You want to shake the people of the drama into an awareness of where they are doing and why they should have taken a different path. But you can’t. This is theatre. Very great theatre, both in the play itself and this interpretation of it.