Theatre: The Brothers Size

April 7th 2011


Griffin Independent, which is part of Griffin Theatre, showcases some of the very best independent theatre in Sydney. This week I checked out Tarell Alvin McCraney's The Brothers Size. The play tells the story of two African American brothers, Ogun Size, a mechanic running a small car repair shop in Detroit, and Ogun's younger brother Oshoosi, a live wire fresh out of prison, who is trying to get back on the straight and narrow living under his older brother’s care.

What unfolds between the brothers is a tug of war between good and evil. Oshoosi is caught between the honest, hard working ways of his older brother and those of another "brother", Elegba, an ex-con, and old alliance.

Gripping from start to finish, this 75 minute three hander is as much a highly choreographed dance piece as it is a theatre production, with help from movement expert Daniella Lacob. Lean and beautifully lit, the play takes place in a diamond shaped space lit from below. There is something very ritualistic about The Brothers Size – the daily ritual of getting out of bed and being ‘good’. Grounded solidly in the tribal African sounds of drummer Miriam Liebermann, director Imara Savage has discovered a real sense of authenticity in the fusion of traditional African culture and modern day American counter-culture.

Aiding this sense of authenticity are African American accents. There is no doubt that accents are hard to do, but these actors have such a tight handle on their ‘American Talk’, specifically Eastern American slang, that I’m sure they could walk the streets of Baltimore undetected.

The Brothers Size stars indigenous actor Meyne Wyatt as Oshooshi. Wyatt, who has just graduated from NIDA is really great as this volatile larger than life character and an exciting young actor to watch. Marcus Johnson, who is the only actor that is American by birth plays Ogun Size, Oshooshi’s older brother, and Tongan Australian Anthony Taufa plays the sinister Elegba.

The Brothers Size is playing at SBW Stables Theatre in Kings Cross until April 16. Tickets are $30/$26 under 30s/$23 concession/$15 Monday night 'Rush'


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