The Brothers Size engaged, enthralled and enraptured me. Sleep eluded me on the night of the performance as I kept being visited by scenes of the performance. I think I dreamt about the brothers and my waking thoughts were still with them. I am not sure why The Brothers Size touched me so deeply and I don’t really know how they did it.
Was it the simple story? A man returns home to his brother, a car mechanic, after his release from prison. They remember. They dream. They are circled by his friend from the penitentiary. The friend lures him from the circle with a stolen car and drugs. Will he remain safe in the circle of his brother’s protection? Will the law catch him again? Or will there be another way out?
Was it the way in which the story was told? The language was “nigger” talk and it took me a few minutes to get tuned into the language and understand it. But even if I hadn’t understood one word of the language, the story was told so much through the muscular physical expression of the three men that it wouldn’t have mattered. The strong rhythmic drumming was evocative and took us into the realm of ritual and myth.
A powerful device
Was it the use of the three-quarter round stage and the excellent lighting? The sparse stage was overlooked by a tall structure suggesting the prison. The actors created the central round stage with a white circle and marked the ways in and out of the circle with stones. This was a powerful device for showing us what was contained within the brothers’ relationship. We get to know of the anger, the dreams, the care and the awkward love between the brothers through little scenes that allow us to share the intimacy within the circle.
Perhaps this production was so moving simply because it was American - straight from Syracuse - and, therefore, unfamiliar to me. The playwright is Tarell Alvin McCraney, a young writer, who has received awards in the US. The Brothers Size is written and conceived in such a fresh and original way and directed by Timothy Bond in a way that gets every gram of richness from the script.
Depth and subtlety of expression
The actors were remarkable in their depth and subtlety of expression, in their athletic energy, in their masterful timing that brought poignancy from comic moments. Rodrick Covington is a particularly talented actor and his singing of Try A little Tenderness was wonderful. Joshua Elijah Reese, as the older, responsible brother, expressed the awkward tenderness, the anger, the care toward his younger brother with great sensitivity. Sam Encarnacion was suitably shadowy as the circling prowler.
I’ve kind of answered my question about why I was so moved by this production of The Brothers Size. But talking about some of the elements that combined to make this such a soulful experience cannot come close to actually seeing and feeling it for yourself. Do not miss it!
After its run at the Baxter Flipside, The Brothers Size transfers to the Market Theatre from 14 June to 1 July.
by Daphne Cooper