Set in late 1940s New York, Miller's story unfolds in a close immigrant community bound by Italian codes of justice and vengeance. Here, the relative peace is about to be disturbed by the decision of longshoreman Eddie and his wife Beatrice to take illegal immigrants, Marco (Matthew Flynn) and Rodolpho (Tadeusz Pasternak), into their working-class home. Eddie's live-in niece Catherine (Katherine Holme), and her growing fondness for Rodolpho, initiates a dramatic chain of events that shake the household to its very foundations.
Sexual repression, paranoia and homophobia explode in an emotional inferno that has tragic consequences for Eddie, his family and their whole community. And we are there, intimate witnesses to the complexity of human emotions and relationships played out in these characters' lives.
Robert Gwilym brings amazing intensity to the role of Eddie, shifting from extremes of tenderness and anger. Torn between his community loyalties and repressed sexual desire for his niece, Eddie feels he can control neither his passions nor the betrayals they give rise to, not least those towards his painfully loyal wife (a waste of the excellent Sorcha Cusack in one of Miller's underdeveloped parts).
Elsewhere, the electric onstage atmosphere is maintained by the energetic conviction of the rest of director Kenny Ireland's remarkable company. The sophistication and credibility of their characterisations allow the audience to empathise with all of Miller's tormented individuals.
Ireland's compelling production - complemented by Saul Radomsky's solid design and Jeanine Davies' lighting - achieves an outstanding realism that symbolises the wider community of economic migrants trying to find a place in a new world. And it's worthy of Miller's incisive, accessible, and still significant, modern classic.
- David Stockton (reviewed at the Windsor's Theatre Royal)