Last Tango With Marlon
by Willard Manus
Marlon Brando and Wally Cox were boyhood friends back in Evanston, Illinois. They remained close for the rest of their lives, most of which were spent in Hollywood, where Brando became rich and famous for his film work, Cox somewhat less so for his TV accomplishments (Mr Peepers, Hollywood Squares).
Their intense and revealing relationship was the subject of a recent stage play, LAST TANGO WITH MARLON, which was done in L.A. last year and is now out in a welcome DVD release. Written and directed by Fletcher Rhoden with Frank Cavestani starring as Brando, Raf Mauro as Cox, the hour-long drama is set in 1974. Brando's flagging career has been revitalized by his startling
performances in The Godfather and Last Tango in Paris, but these triumphs haven't served to slay the actor's personal demons.
Deeply unhappy, drinking to excess, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Brando summons up the ghost of his recently deceased friend Cox, who then proceeds to try and save Brando from self-destructing. Alternately lecturing, then babying Brando, Cox begins to bring his friend around. They share memories of their unhappy childhoods (parental abuse and disapproval), their struggles to succeed in showbusiness. Soon the two of them are joking and clowning around, performing favorite song and dance routines,
investigating the highs and lows of their personal lives.
Mauro and Cavestani are a marvelous team; each brings his character to life with flair and fire, capturing the many sides of Brando and Cox with impressive skill. Working together effortlessly, like an old vaudeville team, they make LAST TANGO WITH BRANDO a theatrical dance to remember. (firstname.lastname@example.org)