Raised by a single mom, he tells the story of their complicated relationship through photos and videos and the art of storytelling. Brendan’s mother loved The Beatles and he was first exposed to them one late night when he couldn’t sleep, peeking in a doorway, watching his mother watch the movie, Yellow Submarine on television. After that, The Beatles became an entry into finding a connection with his mother and himself. As a toddler, he could not pronounce his name, Brendan, but instead could only make the sound NaNa for his name, so when he heard McCartney’s “Hey Jude” with the final “Na na na nananana, nananana, hey Jude…” he figured the song was about him.
The Beatles will be the constant in his and his mother’s tangled torturous connection. The band will be the thread that will hold them together.
On the screen on stage, as the audience enters, are seven questions about The Beatles’ music. Only one person in our audience got all seven correct, and three others got six. They are great questions and a fun way to start the evening. Upon his entry, Brendan immediately creates a collaborative loving community. We are all cheering for him.
We witnessed, in the tight but way too short sixty minutes, the growth of Hunt from child to man, from young artist to consummate entertainer and writer. His mother and her alcoholism were continual partners in their relationship. The saying, “Comedy is tragedy plus time” rings true in The Movement You Need. Humor is the gateway through pain. Brendan Hunt uses his tilted comedic way of looking at the world in all of his brilliant performances and writing. He had a public-access show he wrote and starred in as a high school student. We get to watch it. Even then the glimmer of brilliance, of art seen in the everyday is present.
The spark for the evening started back in 2022 when in the UK, working on Ted Lasso, Hunt found out that Paul McCartney was going to be performing, just a walk away from where they were working on the show, rehearsing for a tribute to Taylor Hawkins, drummer for the Foo Fighters. And luck has it The Lasso group was invited. Hunt is about to meet, in person, the man who was the glue that kept him and his mother together. The person who was a lifesaver through his music to Hunt’s entire adolescence. Knowing that McCartney had spent decades having adoring fans crumble and gush at his feet, Brendan “Na Na” Hunt chooses not to crumble and gush but simply remain silent and be a friend and not a fan.
The Movement You Need is all about what he would have said to McCartney had he felt he could and instead been a fan.
As you know, the lyric na-na is in many rock and roll songs, not just “Hey Jude,” “Na Na, Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”, Song by Steam, Na Na Na Song by One Direction, the Batman Theme from the 1966 television series Batman, which features the lyrics “Na-na-na-na-na-na-na, Batman” Brendan “Na Na” Hunt was destined to be a rock star writer.
Much of this is the story of Hunt’s teenage years. Those torturous years of looking for oneself and often finding dead ends. We are all, all of us so confused as teenagers. So tormented. Hunt reaches into the confusion and torment and with humor and love takes us on a journey through the angst to pop out the other end.
His mother died of emphysema before her 64th birthday. Such a short complicated dark life where joy was found in the music of four men from the United Kingdom, a place where her son would find his music and shine.
Na Na!, thank you! One hell of a great night at the theater.
The Movement You Need written and performed by Brendan Hunt
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Soho Playhouse 15 Vandam St, New York, NY 10013