“The Brothers Size,” a delightfully unconventional bit of theater being performed through Sunday, Oct. 5 by Stray Cat Theatre in Tempe, is a visceral exploration of brotherhood by blood and circumstance.
Its trio of characters includes siblings Ogun and Oshoosi Size and an ex-con named Elegba — all named for prominent deities in a pantheon of gods recognized by the Yoruba people with roots in Southern Nigeria.
The main piece of a set designed by Eric Beeck, the front-end of an old beat-up car, never moves. It’s entrenched much like the lives of those we see moving around it.
The Stray Cat Theatre production features Michael Thompson as the earnest, hard-working Ogun and Damon J. Boling as the naive and eager Oshoosi. DeJean Brown is the charming but deceptive Elegba, whose presence unravels the tentative stability of the brothers’ lives.
“The Brothers Size” is directed by Ron May, the artistic director for Stray Cat Theatre, who delivers a powerful take on this parable best appreciated on an emotional rather than cognitive level as drums beat and heavy chains rattle.
Don’t reason too hard while the story unfolds. Just roll with it. Not because it doesn’t make sense (it does). But because the work is meant to conjure rather than explain.
Those who experienced last year’s Center Dance Ensemble performance of “The Rite of Spring,” a ballet infused with pagan mythology that features music by Igor Stravinsky, may feel similarly affected by “The Brothers Size.”
Think of it as a fairy tale for grown-ups, without the happy ending. McCraney’s voice, like May’s direction, is distinct and commanding without being loud. Close your eyes, and you’ll be transported by the dialogue alone. Cover your ears and you’ll still divine a dark world of desperation.
Better yet, let the vignettes of volition wash over all your senses. Size matters.
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