Opening the 2014-15 season at Ron May’s Stray Cat Theatre in Tempe is a drama that to date has proved a success on both sides of the Atlantic, and little wonder; it’s a stunning piece of work.
Running at a breathless ninety minutes without intermission, The Brothers Size possesses the kind of storytelling rhythm associated with West African chants backed by the occasional pulsating, percussive beats of sticks and drums. It’s not technically a musical, but music has a lot to do with its style, culminating in an audience-pleasing moment when the drama and squabbling between the two brothers are set aside in order for the younger brother to perform Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness, backed by an instrumental recording of the song on Oshoosi’s old cassette player. “I was born a choirboy,” Elegba tells Oshoosi regarding the boy’s voice in an earlier scene, “But you’re like a siren.”
Playwright McCraney wrote The Brothers Size as part of a trilogy, though your enjoyment of this section matters little if you’re unfamiliar with the remaining two. The play stands alone and needs no knowledge or support from McCraney’s other works, though having now seen The Brother Size, curiosity has piqued.
Despite the bad boy image Ron May has deservedly earned – something of which this column has written before – as a director he’s now become one of the most consistently interesting talents of valley theatre. In The Brothers Size he’s managed to pull three outstanding performances out of his cast, all of whom add flesh to their characters and a distinct sense of reality to what they’re talking about.
Special mention to Eric Beeck’s exceptional set which you have a chance to inspect long before the play begins.
Local audiences tend to hand out standing ovations as though they were free samples. The performance this reviewer attended didn’t get one, but if any play presented in the valley this year deserved a standing-o it’s this accomplished and heart wrenching production of The Brothers Size.
THIS IS AN ABRIDGED VERSION OF THE ORIGINAL REVIEW - READ IT IN ITS ENTIRETY BELOW
The Brothers Size – Theatre Review: Stray Cat Theatre, Tempe