BWW Review: WILD SON: THE TESTIMONY OF CHRISTIAN BRANDO at Santa Monica Playhouse
"Set under the white-hot glare of Hollywood and Celebrity, "Wild Son: The Testimony of Christian Brando" tells the story of Marlon Brando's troubled, headline-making son...in his own words. The story is populated by the likes of Jack Nicholson, Michael Jackson, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, Anjelica Huston, Robert Blake and others. Most importantly, it is the story of father and son".
RUN, don't walk, to the final performance on May 26th as this show is much more than just father and son! It is much more than Hollywood-Royalty gossip. It is a story of one of the richest 'poor-unfortunate-souls'.
"Wild Son: The Testimony of Christian Brando" is a brief glimpse into the story of a Hollywood prince whose circumstances turned his life from golden to gory. It is the ultimate question of which is stronger...nurture or nature.
Mese is a captivating, enthralling, and bewitching actor who casts a spell over the audience with his storytelling and has us in the palm of his hand from the get-go.
This is not an evening of impersonations (as Mese looks nothing like Christian Brando), although he does a great Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson. But, in fact, morphs into the troubled young adult and takes us on an hour-long ride of a retelling of painful incidences, hapless happenings, sexual and physical abuse, longing, addiction, and of course the year or two before and after Christian Brando's multiple incarcerations and run-ins with the law.
In addition to actor John Mese, director/writer Champ Clark is part of the success of this production. The interviews that Clark experienced with Christian Brando, himself, translates into a fascinating and (often) gut-wrenching evening of theatre like only a good Shakespearean tragedy could.
One never knows what goes on behind closed doors of the Hollywood Elite. Nevertheless, movies such as 'Mommie Dearest' and plays such as "Wild Son" certainly paint a dark picture which is the complete opposite of what is portrayed on the silver screen about some of our Hollywood Heroes.
You do not have to be a fan of the Brando Family to be enthralled by this production, go for the stellar acting and quality writing/directing. But I promise you, that you will stay for (what this reviewer came away with), which was sadness for this young man's childhood that led to some very unfortunate situations as well as empathy for his situation.
And, regarding the nurture/nature question...with respect to Christian Brando, it is this reviewer's opinion that it was 50/50. But as a theatrical triumph, "Wild Son" is 100%!
"Wild Son: The Testimony of Christian Brando" plays Sundays at 5:30pm through May 26 at the Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th Street, Santa Monica 90401. For tickets: wildson.brownpapertickets.com
CAUTION: The show contains strong language.