This is quite the year for Ivo van Hove, the Belgian director-auteur known for his experimental takes on classic dramas. Back in September, his production of “Antigone” with Juliette Binoche played BAM, and now his revival of Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge,” which originated in London, has transferred to Broadway.
The 1955 play, which was revived on Broadway just six seasons ago with Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson, depicts the emotional struggles of Eddie Carbone, an Italian-American longshoreman who is sheltering two illegal Italian immigrants at his Red Hook home.
When one of the immigrants becomes romantically involved with Eddie’s teenage niece Catherine, for whom he harbors unacknowledged feelings, Eddie becomes increasingly unstable and takes a path that ends in tragedy for himself and his family.
Hove takes a scalpel-edged, stripped-down yet over-the-top approach that drains the play of its naturalistic flavor. The actors, wearing casual attire, and all barefoot, appear in an empty space that resembles a boxing ring and are surrounded by onstage audience members. No one uses accents.
But what really hurts the two-hour production is Hove’s never-ending use of an unsettling, dirge-like soundscape, which interrupts the dialogue and is often disconnected from the storytelling. It is most effective at the play’s brutal climax, which also contains a splashy visual feat.
Mark Strong conveys Eddie’s inner torment with a quiet intensity. As the lawyer Alfieri, who also serves as a narrator, Michael Gould watches the proceedings in absolute horror.
For the record, this production received big raves in London, and I’m sure that many people here will be similarly turned on by it. But by the same token, I suspect that plenty of others will find it pretentious and obnoxious.
The Hove marathon will soon continue with the David Bowie musical “Lazarus” at New York Theatre Workshop and a Broadway revival of “The Crucible,” another Arthur Miller classic.
If you go: “A View from the Bridge” plays through Feb. 21 at the Lyceum Theatre. 149 W. 45th St., aviewfromthebridgebroadway.com.