ARTHUR Miller’s A View From The Bridge is “arguably one of the best plays ever written, an extraordinary text and a brilliant, unforgettable experience for an audience,” says director Juliet Forster.

Fresh from directing Romeo & Juliet at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre at Blenheim Palace, York Theatre Royal’s associate director is at the helm of the Theatre Royal and Royal & Derngate Northampton co-production that opens in York on September 20.

Miller’s setting is 1950s’ New York, where respected longshoreman Eddie Carbone lives a life of seeming stability with his wife and niece in a tight-knit immigrant community bound by moral codes of justice and honour. The surprise arrival of his wife’s Sicilian cousins, however, unravels all that they have built together as the young men search out work, wealth and love.

“It feels very contemporary, a universal story, despite being set in 1950s’ Brooklyn Italian-American community,” says Juliet, who previously directed Miller’s The Crucible at the Theatre Royal. ”Look at the kind of climate we’re in in this country – and across the world really – of shifting attitudes and antagonism towards immigration, particularly the idea of economic immigration. It should be a basic human right that we can move to where there is work so we can feed our family.

“It’s a really strong theme in the play, even though it’s the back story to the central story of what happens to Eddie Carbone. It also raises lots of questions around different models of masculinity and that is also something that feels very current to our world.”

Juliet continues: “The power of the drama, of Miler’s writing and the dynamics of the relationships in the play, seemed to me to be bigger than the confines of the setting, and relevant to all of us.”

Consequently, she has chosen a “very mixed cast in terms of ethnicity and nationality”. “I’m interested in the migrancy themes in the play, and in some respects I was interested in expanding the relevance of the story beyond the very specific Italian-American setting by recruiting a very mixed cast,” she says. “People with roots in lots of different parts of the world because this is a play that spreads out into being quite a global issue instead of being focused on just one community.”

Nicholas Karimi, who is half-Iranian, half-Scottish, will play Eddie, while Irish actress Laura Pyper, born in Belfast and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, before working in London from 2002 to 2016, will take the role of Beatrice.

Nicholas, who appeared as sociopathic child rapist Assef in The Kite Runner on tour at York Theatre Royal in 2014, recalls first watching A View From The Bridge at the age of 14. “I’ve seen it three times in total, and the older I’ve got, the more I’ve connected with it,” he says.

“My dad, who’s Iranian, came over to Britain in the 1970s, and I saw my dad in all Miller’s male characters. He couldn’t get work, so he ended up working on building sites in Edinburgh ¬ - he’s still as strong as an ox at 70 – but they took the mick out of him for sounding different and used to call him ‘Tony’ because they thought he was Italian, not Iranian.

“I worked with him from 14 up until I was 21, doing my last shift, working with wheelbarrows, while I was at drama school and vowed never to do it again.”

Looking at Miller’s themes, he says: “Immigration is the biggest one for me: it leaps out at you, especially in the current climate, As the son of an immigrant, it strikes the right chord for me.”

Laura moved to York with husband Tom Bird when he took up his post as executive director at the Theatre Royal and she now returns to the stage at the age of 40 after focusing on raising their young children.

Brexit’s subtext of immigration issues resonates with her. “At 40, I’m going to change from being British to Irish, because I’m entitled to an Irish passport,” she says.

“After Brexit, I’ll have two of the most worthless passports ever: Iranian and British,” rejoins Nicholas.

Broadening her thoughts on the resonance of Miller’s play, Laura says: “It may be 70 years old, but it doesn’t feel dated at all. Like Shakespeare, if you’re dealing with family, love, honour, masculinity, those themes will never be out of date.

“This is the first time I’ve played my age and it feels wonderful to be doing that. It’s a coming of age story for me and also my first role since becoming a mother.”

A View From The Bridge runs at York Theatre Royal from September 20 until October 12, 7.30pm plus 2pm on September 26 and October 3 and 10; 2.30pm, September 28, October 5 and 12.