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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

A powerful and emotionally charged piece of theatre at Bolton Octagon

REVIEW By Hilary Dawes

Directed by Holly Race Roughan, this is the first major UK production in almost a decade of Arthur Miller’s classic play.

Set in the fifties by the docks of Red Hook, a working-class part of Brooklyn, this powerful and poignant story echoes the format of a Greek tragedy, narrated by the lawyer Alfieri.

Eddie Carbone is a longshoreman on the docks, and as he arrives home from work, we join him, his wife Beatrice and their niece Catherine, as they await the arrival of Beatrice’s cousins from Sicily who are hoping to gain employment and make enough money to send back to their families, living in poverty in the battered economy of post-war Italy. As they wait, talk turns to Catherine’s wish to start work in an office, which Eddie vehemently opposes, and he begins to realise that, at seventeen, Catherine is no longer his little girl.

Cousins Marco and Rodolpho arrive and are initially welcomed by Eddie, but as it becomes apparent that Catherine and Rodolpho are attracted to each other, Eddie’s feelings for Catherine become more complex and his animosity towards Rodolpho turns to hatred. Tensions rise and events spiral out of control as Eddie becomes determined that Catherine should not become involved with Rodolpho, resorting to shocking and desperate measures despite the sound legal advice from Alfieri.

Jonathan Slinger gave a superlative performance as Eddie, carrying us along on a rollercoaster of emotions, managing to sway our feelings towards him from anger and disgust to sadness and compassion. Kirsty Bushell was compelling as Eddie’s anguished wife Beatrice, as she tried in vain to calm her husband’s rages and persuade him to do the right thing, whilst Rachelle Diedericks gave a strong performance as his devoted niece Catherine.

There were convincing performances too from Tommy Sim’aan and Luke Newberry as chalk and cheese Italian cousins, Marco and Rodolpho. This was the first production of the play where Alfieri was played by a woman, and Nancy Crane performed the role beautifully with a calm and measured demeanour. Elijah Holloway (in his professional stage debut) and Lamin Touray were excellent as Eddie’s workmates Louis and Mike.

Praise must also go to the creative team, who with an almost bare set, dominated by a giant neon sign, managed to convey the atmosphere of the docklands, the Brooklyn streets and Eddie’s sparsely furnished home.

This powerful and emotionally charged piece of theatre should not be missed and is running at the Octagon, Bolton until 30th September 2023.

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