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Fiction by Norwegian Women

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Brothers Size Presented by Simpatico Theatre Project

Tarell Alvin McCraney-Photo courtesy of the Vineyard Theatre

*Click link to a video of Mr. McCraney  speaking about his work:

Friday I was prepared for another evening of lackluster Philadelphia theatre. But the Simpatico Theatre Project production of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play The Brothers Size immediately engaged me.  Playwright McCraney, a recipient of one of this year’s MacArthur “Genius” Awards, expertly and seamlessly intertwined Yoruba mythology into an African-American social landscape and towed the audience into the world of Ogun and Oshoosi Size; two brothers seemingly different but bonded by their love for one another and a third character, Elegba, who shares a relationship, on several levels, with one of the brothers.  

Akeem Davis as Oshoosi Size in THE BROTHERS SIZE. Photo credit: Daniel Kontz.

Ogun, the older of the brothers, who is hardworking and reliable, owns his mechanics garage and, of course, the symbolism of cars and freedom is heavy in this play.  Oshoosi, the younger brother, has recently been released from prison, where he served time with Elegba as well, and has returned to his brother’s home to start life again, on the outside.  In McCraney’s expert hands and in Simpatico’s equally skilled execution of this play, they jointly pull back these macho scabs, these layers of deferred dreams, and from a pit of denial, neglect and injustice, they excise and bring to the surface the raw, recognizable humanity of these three men.

Despite the starkness of the stage design, which was brilliant, McCraney clearly sees these characters and their struggles in epic terms, worthy of being presented on a world stage, eclipsed by nothing.  Who heralds the tale of working class African-American men, of Black men who love men, of struggling folks who want to revel in the touch of freedom?   What also reels in the audience is the language of The Brothers Size.  There is a rhythm to a lot of the dialogue, but the effect of the actors speaking their inner thoughts and the stage directions brings the audience inside of the characters; you are swimming inside of them and it is not a smooth ride as theatre should be. 

Akeem Davis (left) and Carlo Campbell in "The Brothers Size" at Simpatico Theatre Project. (DANIEL KONTZ)

Bravo to all those involved in this production.

The last performance of The Brothers Size is tomorrow, November 3, 2013.  Sunday is a 2:00 p.m. performance at the Walnut Street Theatre’s Studio Five.   Click here for more info.

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