Writers: Mike Morris &Steve Higginson
Director: Carl Cockram
Reviewer: Vicki Goodwin
After the overwhelming critical acclaim of their debut run back in 2012, it was no real surprise that the cast and crew of ‘Waiting for Brando’ would be back for more. Arguably one of the most refreshing pieces of theatre to grace a Liverpool stage in quite some time, ‘Waiting for Brando’ holds an undeniable charm for local audiences. This second run gives those of us who missed out, no excuse to make the same mistake twice!
Set against the tumultuous backdrop of the McCarthy witch hunts, ‘Waiting for Brando’ is essentially a two story play that tackles a tale of brotherhood, betrayal, and a cracking urban myth concerning Eddie and Vinnie (Daniel Hayes and Joe Shipman), two seamen from the Mersey, who were allowed to stay drinking in a New Jersey bar while Brando was filming a scene for ‘On the Waterfront.’
The play opens with Eddie waiting alone in an empty bar, for his brother Vinnie. Hayes and Shipman give a powerful performance as two brothers on the cusp of their future. The two actors are mesmerising, pulling us in to a story that may seem unconnected to the other, but is sophistically linked. Meanwhile, legendary film director, Kazan (Paul Duckworth) is working on the screenplay for ‘On the Waterfront.’ Haunted by his decision to ‘name names’ at Senator McCarthy’s witch-hunting hearings, Kazan must now contemplate his own future. Playwright Arthur Miller (Carl Cockram) is horrified by the choices that his ex-friend has made, and faces an unsure journey with him. The scenes between the two men are completely absorbing, showing us the grim realities of 1950’s Hollywood, and the collapse of the American dream. This is a performance in which each actor is sublime, giving the audience a passionate portrayal with moments when you can feel your breath being taken away.
Every inch of space is well used in the intimate surroundings of Unity Theatre. As the action switches from one side of the stage to the other, you get the sense that it’s this intimacy that holds us so enthralled. Sound and lighting are expertly managed, from the jukebox to the echoing inside Kazan’s mind, no technique is overused or forced, suggesting a performance that never overreaches its powerful stance.
While this performance may be stacked to the brim with local appeal, it’s a play that holds mass interest. I’m sure that it won’t be too long before ‘Waiting for Brando’ finds itself on yet another run, but in the meantime, don’t miss out on what is a truly captivating experience.
Runs at the Unity Theatre until April 20th