Darling, the reviews are in!
First night. Packed out theatre. My nerves disappeared as I took my seat, though the sneaky little hip-flask with one of my favourite bourbons, Makers Mark, no doubt helped. I needn’t have been worried. The performances by the lads were fantastic, and it was surprisingly smooth considering it was the first night. One moment, when Vinnie’s guitar strap broke as he was preparing to play, was loved by everyone I spoke to, who assumed it was scripted. I’m not sure how he’ll recreate it, but I’m claiming it was already in the script now!
Anyway, I’m biased, so here’s the link to the Liverpool Echo’s review with the full review printed below. I’ll post more later.
REVIEW: Waiting for Brando at the Unity by Catherine Jones, Liverpool Echo
THERE’S nothing like a good urban myth, and the one about two real-life Cunard Yanks allowed to remain propping up the bar in the background of movie On The Waterfront is a doozy.
Who cares if it’s true or not? It’s better if it’s just that, myth, certainly for the team behind Waiting for Brando, receiving its premiere as part of this month’s Writing on the Wall festival.
Co-writers Mike Morris and Steve Higginson have taken the idea of the two Scouse seamen and turned them into a pair of fictional brothers, steady Eddie (Daniel Hayes) and impetuous younger sibling Vinnie (Joe Shipman) inhabiting what is an engaging new piece of theatre.
The pair meet in aNew Yorkbar ahead of their ship departing, but there’s no plain sailing in a complicated and tense relationship first forged during childhood.
Here, the Brando of the title represents change and excitement, for Vinnie at least.
Elsewhere, for director Elia Kazan (Paul Duckworth) the Brando of the title represents both justification and redemption after his decision to denounce fellow artists to McCarthy’s Communist witch-hunts, which lost him the friendship of playwright Arthur Miller (Carl Cockram).
Morris and Higginson show a keen feel for the rhythm and poeticism of dialogue, and have created two distinct styles for the pairs of protagonists, with the action switching back and forwards between them.
The creatives, bathed in the dim light of Kazan’s downtown studio, have sophisticated verbal exchanges (although it helps to have at least a basic knowledge of Kazan’s role in the witch-hunts to understand the arguments), while there’s an easy naturalness to the sharp-edged banter of the brothers, and some smart lines.
“I grew up thinking frowning was a national pastime and my name was Vinnie Don’t,” the younger brother as he sets out his reasoning for turning his back on gloomy post-warBritainfor the shiny brightness ofAmerica.
However, there are times when the writers are too cute for their own good, over-egging the wisdom and witticism along with a torrent of cultural references.
This is a real ensemble piece, albeit with an emphasis on the bar room brothers, and there are impressive performances from all four leading men, particularly Joe Shipman as the frenetic Vinnie.
Is it worth us all waiting for Brando? Yes it is.