I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Gala performance of A View from the Bridge the other night. It’s a play by Arthur Miller which, in the wrong hands, could now be as dated as a 1950s Coca-Cola poster. With Dutch director Ivo Van Hove in charge, it is electrifying and quite frankly terrifying. Mark Strong, known for his Hollywood villains and for Our Friends in the North (which I missed as I lived in Belgium then) is unbelievably good in the main part – so scary that I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to meet him afterwards at the swanky after-party.
I love getting invites to stuff like this. This time, it was thanks to my lovely and brilliant university friend Lucy Woollatt who is the executive director of the Young Vic and officially the sixth most important person in British theatre! Just think of that! I’m amazed I know someone so influential. She’s still the same as ever, thank goodness, unchanged by the fact that she is now winning a major theatrical prize virtually every time she leaves the house and has fleets of people either hanging on her every word or rushing to do her bidding. I remember when we went to the Edinburgh fringe 400 years ago and she made really rather hard ham rolls so that we could a) see more shows on the mile-long list she had compiled without having to take meal breaks and b) stay resolutely on budget. Meanwhile I was no doubt idly frittering my time and cash away.
I’d seen the play when it was originally on at the Young Vic and it was just as good at the Wyndham’s Theatre. There was the same stunned pause at the end before everyone started to get to their feet, as though forced into an ovation by the sheer power of Mark Strong’s er, strength. The party was held at the Century Club on Shaftesbury Avenue. I loved the fact that it was behind a nondescript door and then up endless flights of stairs (though my bad leg wasn’t so keen) and then up an even further set of totally top secret stairs, which led out eventually to the rooftop. It was a warm night and normally I would have been all over the view, but I just sat and admired the crowd instead, and enjoyed the feeling of being, for once, in the coolest place at the coolest time.