Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Stray Cat Theatre is presenting the Arizona premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s 90 minute drama with three superb actors and direction so effective that they combine to overcome the few shortfalls of the play.

Director Ron May has found three skilled actors to portray these three very different men. Michael Thompson instills Oshoosi Size with a nervous uncertainty. Torn between his two “brothers” and still somewhat immature and irresponsible, Thompson effectively inhabits this confused man. Damon J. Bolling is equally as good as Oshooshi’s older brother Ogun. Ogun worries about his brother and Bolling masterfully shows the concern and anguish in his facial expressions and body movements. Both men experience dreams that haunt them as well as encounter difficult situations where they need to make some tough choices and Thompson and Bolling, under May’s sharp direction, are realistic and moving in bringing those moments to life. With a tilt of his head and a harsh look, Bolling also expertly shows the agitation he feels for Elegba. DeJean Brown is extremely good as Elegba. It must be a tough part to play since with Elegba you never quite know if he is being sincere or manipulative, which shows how well Brown is in the role. Brown also brings to life a confrontation that Elegba has with a police officer so effectively, easily portraying Elegba’s nervousness and the policeman’s cockiness with just the change of his voice and body posture.

With the use of rhythmic elements in both the stage movement and the musical segments, the tug of war between the three men is staged almost as a dance or ritual movement by May. There are also numerous moments in the play, from the scene of Oshooshi walking to work in the hot sun, the dreams the brothers are haunted by and an intense moment in a car, where May’s staging creates vivid, moving scene images. He also allows the tension in the play to reverberate with the vocal cadence of his actors’ speech and the pounding on various objects. Also, the final scene between the two Size brothers features the two men singing a bit of Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" that is sweet, touching and heartbreaking all at the same time. It is another winning directorial effort from May.

The Brothers Size is a haunting, powerful piece of drama but also a play with an element of pretention that could easily sideline the piece with a less talented cast or director...The Brothers Size ultimately serves as a reminder of the struggles people go through and the obstacles they encounter along the way to become free and May and his actors keep the play churning along with heroic performances and riveting direction to its dramatic conclusion.