Sunday, July 20, 2014

'The Brothers Size' Has Many Dimensions

By Darlene Donloe

There is a lot of intensity in Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brothers Size.

Set in San Pere, Louisiana, near the Bayou, the show starts off hot and increases its intensity as the show progresses.  That’s because the show hits on all cylinders. The acting, directing, set design and the dialogue are all on point – making this incredibly poignant, emotional and intense production a must see.

The riveting show feels humid and sticky and is steeped with affecting music and a Southern tempo. It’s an intimate look inside the relationship of two brothers who love each other, but who live very different lives.  It’s a moving, full story about love and sorrow.  McCraney once again uses his signature style of having the actors speak the stage directions and then perform them. It works!

Oshoosi Size (Matthew Hancock) is the recently paroled younger brother of Ogun Size (Gilbert Glenn Brown). Determined to turn his life around without constantly being reminded of his previous transgressions, Oshoosi, grudgingly begins working at his brother’s auto repair shop.

Enter Elegba (Theo Perkins), Oshoosi’s friend and former fellow inmate. Elegba begins to plant things in Oshoosi’s brain to confuse him and cause him to possibly make a detour on his road to discovery and recovery.  Elegba would prefer Oshoosi continue his errant ways. The result leaves Oshoosi torn between his brother, his allegiance and his dreams.

The characters’ first names are deities from West African Yoruba mythology.

 (l-r) Gilbert Glenn Brown, Matthew Hancock (seated) and Theo Perkins

This is the kind of show that invades your soul and stays in the gut long after the curtain falls. It’s so well done it leaves the audience wanting more. What happens after the show is over?  In this one-act, 90 minutes production the audience becomes fully invested in these characters.  McCraney has written well-defined, unique, mysterious and engaging characters.

The acting by all three actors is superb. Brown is intense and absorbing. Hancock is brilliant and Perkins is titillating.

Brown and Hancock are convincing as brothers who have a turbulent, yet loving relationship.  They have several magnetic scenes together. A standout is when the brothers listen to and then sing Percy Sledge’s Try a Little Tenderness.

Shirley Jo Finney has directed a gem. Her direction is fluid and controlled.

The Brothers Size is not only a standout, it’s one of the best productions of the season.

This Los Angeles premiere is the second play in  McCraney’s Brother/Sister Plays.  The first was In the Red and Brown Water and the third is Marcus: Or The Secret of Sweet.

The Brothers Size is written by Tarell Alvin McCraney, directed by Shirley Jo Finney and stars Gilbert Glenn Brown, Matthew Hancock and Theodore Perkins.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), The Brothers Size gets an E (excellent).

The Brothers Size, The Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, CA  90029; 8 p.m. Wed.-Sat, 2 p.m. Sun through Sept. 14; $25-$34; 323 663-1525 or

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