Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and Royal & Derngate co-production
Written by Arthur Miller
Adapted for the stage by Ron Hutchinson
Directed by James Dacre
Till 25th July 2015
Marty (Jamie Sives) is a bit of a hothead, but his heart is in the right
place. He rails against the corrupt way in which employers, the Mafia
and his own union leaders run the New York docks after the Second World
War. Marty's workmates come to see him as their unofficial leader, someone
they can trust in a world where they are getting screwed; although this
faith seems a bit odd when you consider that Marty is all over the place,
in his mind, in his jobs, in his family and in his politics.
The things that happen here to Marty and his mates were written at a
time when the Common Man didn't get much coverage. Since then
much of this has become clichéd; the worker, down on his luck,
standing up for his rights. Better conditions are won in this play by
making deals; when in reality it's been the organised struggle and strike
action of workers that's brought improvements.
It's a wonder of creativity how all the set needed for a play can be
crafted into one space, and here everything (designed by Patrick Connellan)
is finely tuned to fit together. When all the cast and I counted
over 25 - were moving about it reminded me of old images of dock areas.
Maybe that was why a crashing noise was used to signal a change of scene.
But it also led, at times, to too much happening at once to take in.
The ability to recreate the New York drawl is obviously useful in these
situations, and some carried it off better than others.
The story behind this play is of principles being undermined by the powerful.
Arthur Miller wrote the script for film in the early 1950s. He and Elia
Kazan, who had agreed to direct it, approached Columbia Pictures, but
were told that they needed to change the depiction of corrupt union leaders
to one of communists. Miller then fell out with Elia Kazan over the latter's
testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and refused
to get involved in the making of 'On the Waterfront'.
In the year when we celebrate the stand of the Liverpool Dockers against
casualisation, it's good to see the Everyman supporting The Casa. There
is definitely an artistic and innovative side to campaigning, as the dockers
showed in their creative pursuance of international workers' solidarity.
This collaboration does credit to the Everyman, and in the Foyer are hung
classic banners depicting this struggle.