In On the Waterfront, New Jersey ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman Terry Malloy (immortalised on screen by Marlon Brando) comes up against his corrupt, Mob-ruled union bosses. After being implicated in a murder, Terry finds support in the form of a streetwise priest and the love of the dead man’s sister.
The new stage play of On the Waterfront is conceived and directed by Berkoff and co-written by the original screenplay’s author Budd Schulberg (who attended the opening night - See 1st Night Photos) with Stan Silverman. Berkoff himself stars as mobster Johnny Friendly, alongside Simon Merrells as Terry "coulda been a contender" Malloy and Bryony Afferson as love-interest Edie Doyle.
Most critics predictably drew comparisons with Arthur Miller's longshoreman drama A View From the Bridge, which by coincidence also opened in the capital recently (See Review Round-up, 9 Feb 2009). And most clearly enjoyed their return trip to the New York docks, with Berkoff's “creative evocation” of the movie matched by the “knockout performances” of his cast. Simon Merrells was roundly applauded for avoiding a Brando imitation in an “aggressive, vulnerable, touchingly inarticulate” turn as Malloy, while Bryony Afferson's "intense" Doyle and Berkoff's “splendidly sinister” Johnny Friendly also won praise.The Waterfront is clearly the place to be in the West End these days...
- by Theo Bosanquet & Katie Blemler