Rough with the smoothie
The 1950s Italian-American longshoreman Eddie Carbone, the leading figure in this play, "is driven by emotions he can't pin down" says actor Stephen Marzella who plays him in this production.
Eddie betrays family members who enter America illegally through his jealousy of handsome Rodolpho's relationship with his niece Catherine. "If he hadn't turned up, I don't believe anything would have happened. Eddie has given way on Catherine's plea to leave college for a job, though he would have been down there after work, lurking behind a lamp-post, obsessive," says Marzella.
"And protective, in a rough neighbourhood, with his Italian concern for honour. When his wife tells Eddie 'You can't have her' he is confused, an emotional volcano, only slowly realising what his feelings are."
Rosanna Lavelle, playing Catherine, says Miller emphasises her age, 17.
"She's naive, falling in love with the first man she meets. Eddie's arguments are very convincing but she has faith in the strength of her feelings. I had to decide at what point things dawn on Catherine. She has to be innocent, seeing her relationship with Eddie as fatherdaughter."
Nevertheless, Lavelle and Marzella agree that it has threatened Eddie's marriage to Beatrice. Catherine develops during the play. Initially she accepts Eddie's put-downs, only first contradicting him when he objects to her late return with Rodolpho from the cinema. She becomes bolder, up to her final explosion against his refusal to attend her wedding.
"And it's amazing", says Lavelle, that after the inevitable explosion, "Miller has her visit Marco, Rodolpho's brother, in prison. This young woman finds the courage to assert herself, arguing with a 30-year-old man, persuading him against revenge."
There is a similar maturing in her relationship with Rodolpho, from early talk of music and fashion to "real womanly, subtle argument". Her initial, Hollywood-like idea of love develops into a more subtle understanding as he explains he'd never ask her to live impoverished in Italy.
Lavelle clarifies Rodolpho's aims as follows: he loves Catherine and wants, through marrying her, US citizenship. "It's hard to pick true love out of a mess that includes lifestyle; one thing for which he loves her is that she represents the American girl."
Liverpool Playhouse November 25-29 Tel: 0151 709 4776