Liverpool Giants, the Sea and Waiting for Brando
I, like many others who had both keenly awaited it the followed it when they arrived, was bowled over by the Sea Odyssey Giant Spectacular in Liverpool at the weekend. There is something magical about the Giants of Royal Deluxe that is hard to define and yet is tangible when you are in their presence. The incredible crowds in Liverpool at the weekend who followed their every move, became as much a part of the spectacle as the Giant Girl, her Uncle, and her dog, Xolo.
There was one other major addition to the Giants, something different than when the spider came in 2008, and different to London’s The Sultan’s Elephant, also created by Royal Deluxe. That difference was the sea, and the role it played in creating the story based upon the Centenary of the sinking of The Titanic, of the letter from a young girl in Kensington to her father who was lost with The Titanic, and the River Mersey upon which all the giants sailed awy, bringing an end to the story and, maybe, some closure to Titanic.
The spectacle was a reminder of how the the river shapes everything about Liverpool. As the giants reached the estuary, drawing level with the house built by The White Star founder, Harold Ismay, where his son, Bruce J Ismay, who famously commissioned and escaped from The Titanic, spent the first eight years of his life, they would also have drawn level with Anthony Gormley’s Iron Men on Crosby Beach: Another Place.
Another place is where Waiting for Brando is set. That other place is New York, Hoboken to be exact, right on the New jersey docks. Anothe rplace where countless Merchant Seamen from Liverpool stepped off the liners into dream land, a place where, no doubt, many of them had the best times of their lives. Another place from which they brought back the things, music and fashion most famously, that shaped Liverpool into what it is today.
Thomas Hardy, in his poem marking the sinking of The Titanic, ‘Convergence of the Twain’, refers to the ‘rhythmic tidal lyres’ strummed by cold currents. But the convergence of the twain of Liverpool and New York was hot blooded and moved to a different beat – a backbeat even. And it is this moment that Waiting for Brando exists in, a moment of a post-war lull before the new age steps in, the age of rock n roll, the age of the teenager, and the age of Brando as himself and as an icon. It is this moment too when America is caught up in the paranoia of McCarthyism, that Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan are caught up in, a moment when decisions have to be taken, for to hesitate is to be lost.