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REVIEW: THE BROTHERS SIZE

 

Sunday, November 25, 2007.

 

By Belinda Otas

 

5 Stars

 

It is rare for a new writer to captivate the attention of both critics and audiences, but Tarell Alvin McCraney has succeeded where others have struggled with this debut.

 

There is almost nothing in the theatre to beat the discovery of an exciting new dramatic voice, and Mr McCraney, a final year drama student at Yale University, is set for a great career future.

 

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Set in Deep South of Louisiana, ‘The Brothers Size’ explores the bond of brotherhood, written against the backdrop of life’s daily struggles. Ogun and Oshoosi Size are two brothers who have chosen different paths in life.

 

However, the love and bonds they share mean one is continuously drawn into the other’s world, unwillingly. Ogun Size, the law abiding older brother is the owner of an auto-repair shop. His younger brother, Oshoosi, however, is an ex-con who is doing his best to stay on the straight and narrow after his recent release from prison.  

 

Despite Oshoosi’s attempt to do right, the arrival of Elegba, his ex-cell mate soon brings a dramatic twist to their lives and the promise of his new freedom  is threatened and in tatters. Oshoosi soon learns there are some things in life that may be free but there is a heavy price tag to it and that for him could be his freedom.

 

Directed by Bijan Sheibani, the action of the entire play takes place in a circle mapped out by the actors at the beginning, reminiscent of traditional story telling times in the Yoruba culture and other African cultures; when children sit in a circle in the evening as an elder narrates a story.

 

It is more of an accomplishment for McCraney, using the same story-telling techniques, to introduce characters and scenes as the action unfolds. McCraney excels in his ability to take on Yoruba mythology and using the names of African gods to tell this tale of two brothers.

 

Already a success in New York, this is an excellent debut from a promising and talented playwright who combined the mythic and the everyday, stylised ritual with a sense of personal pain and hope.

 

Shebani’s interpretation of McCraney’s script is successful in his ability to bring this compelling story of the family history that both brothers shared and the dynamic relationship between them.

 

He excellently fused the responsibility which Ogun feels towards Oshoosi, as well as the anger and disappointment of his actions, culminating in a heightened burst of emotional energy on stage from Obi Abili as Oshoosi, and Nyasha Hatendi as Ogun.

 

Energetic stage movements choreographed by Aline David and the continuous music by Manuel Pinheiro, which accompanies the actions on stage combined with the electrifying performances of Abili, Nyasha and Martello-White as Elegaba, is both delightful and captivating.

 

The Brothers Size is an evocative production and McCraney is an exciting new voice to watch out for.

 

Written by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Directed By: Bijan Sheibani

Set Design: Patrick Burnier

Musician: Manuael Pinheiro

Choreographer: Aline David

 

Cast: Nyasha Hatendi, Obi Abili and Nathaniel Martello

 

The Bothers Size now showing at the Young Vic until 15 December 2007

 

For more information visit: www.youngvic.org

 

Tel: 0207 922 2922

 

Photographer: Marc Brenner

 

Belinda Otas is a London-based freelance journalist and The New Black Magazine's theatre editor. She can be reached at belindaotas@thenewblackmagazine.com

 

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