Monday, March 23, 2009

'Viewing' Arthur Miller at the West End

Monday, March 23, 2009

Another Monday! Another new week! Another couple of classes to teach at NYU. Luckily, I felt as if I had caught up with a great deal of pending stuff even before I fell asleep last night--so it was without too much stress that I walked to work this morning. I am told that last week was just glorious in London but this week promises to be nippier. At any rate, spring is not quite with us yet as I discovered when I crossed Bloomsbury Square and arrived at my office in the basement of NYU-London.

Both classes went off well with one working on their research essays on Cornwall, the other on their research essays on Suffolk and John Constable. I focused on citations today--how to do them in the body of the essay and on the Works Cited page as I find that so many of my students do not have a clue! I am hoping that the final essays which are due next week will show evidence of their understanding why we cite sources in research essays.

I ate my sandwich lunch at my desk while juggling so many other tasks. I had to call Aetna Global in the States to find out why my claims for private physical therapy in London have been rejected. Turns out they were pending review and have now been passed in full. I should be receiving a nice fat check in the mail soon! I also prepared a letter for my Ryanair refund for Counter Check-in services at the airport to which, as a US passport holder, I am entitled. Next, I photocopied a large number of the London Walks from the book that the Fradleys lent me yesterday. They are great walkers themselves and I am hoping that, come summer, I will be fit enough to continue my discovery of London on foot.

I taught my second class at Birkbeck College, then spent over an hour in my office before I made my way to the Duke of York's Theater at St. Martin's Lane to get the 7. 30 performance of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge. I had never ever seen this play in performance and had no idea what it was all bout. It was the fact that the cast included Hailey Atwell (from The Duchess and Brideshead Revisted) that made me buy a ticket to the play several weeks ago as I am convinced that she will be the great actress of tomorrow.

Well, what can I say about the play that will not sound as if I am in raptures? It was beyond fabulous! My seats were lousy and the stage design being what it was I could barely see a thing. I decided to go and occupy one of the empty side box seats and from there, I had an incredible view of the stage. Not knowing what the play was about, everything came to me as a surprise and I have to say that I was bowled over.

Miller's writing was just scintillating and I do believe that it is more powerful than the far more famous Death of a Salesman of which I have seen many performed versions both in India and the States. The manner in which these British actors articulated the lines was just astounding, their Brooklyn accents never faltering for a moment, their gestures and mannerisms so completely Nerw Yorker that for a couple of hours I truly believed I had crossed the Verrazano Bridge from New Jersey into Staten Island and Brooklyn.

Kenn Stott played the Italian-American stevedore Eddie Carbonne whose obsessive love for his motherless niece Catherine (Hailey Atwell) leads him to betray the two illegal immigrants--Marco and Rudolpho--family members on his wife's side that he 'rats' out on to the immigration authorities because he cannot bear to think of Catherine's marriage to another man. In his gradual disintegration from head of the family to powerless uncle who looks on helplessly as Rudolpho woos his niece, Stott portrays the dramatic tragic hero to perfection. He was more than ably supported by Mary Elizabeth Mastrononio who played his sexually neglected wife, herself evolving from voiceless figurehead to powerful matriarch even as Eddie Carbonne breaks down. This, in my humble opinion, is truly West End theater at its most gratifying and I was struck repeatedly by how ironic it is that I was watching one of the greatest classics of contemporary American drama in London with a bunch of English actors!

I walked home after the show as I have not yet renewed my bus pass and got into bed at 10. 30 ready for a night of restful slumber and the catching up on a lot of pending chores tomorrow.

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