The Brothers Size

The Brothers Size

The Brothers Size
By Tarell Alvin McCraney
Directed by Bobby Bell
With Jim Braswell, Stelson Telfort and Clinton Harris
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL

There’s heaping helping of bayou mysticism and Bobby Bell symbolism here, but deep down this is a straightforward tale of brotherly love. Oshoosi Size (Telfort) did some time; now he’s on probation and crashing on his brother Ogun’s (Braswell) couch. “Get a job” is his mantra, and when Oshoosi drags his heels Ogun hires him to help in his car repair shop. Elegba (Harris) is the Bad Idea Bear here, he draws Oshoosi off to party time and toking some parole breaking reefer. But Ogun isn’t all about tough love; he fixes Oshooshi up with a car that Elegba immediately puts too bad use. The small town sheriff’s siren screams, and its time for some real brotherly love and a big dose of Yoruba and Santeria mysticism.

The story may be simple but the staging adds layers of mysticism and symbolism. The stage is bare except for a ring of sand and few galvanized buckets. A corresponding ring of chimes and a painted tire are up in the light grid but they are hardly noticed; they are some sort of heavenly goal no one will ever ascend to. Braswell’s Ogun fumes and sweats and cares; he’s the guy with the boring and peaceful life ahead of him and he wants to spread that giving tree to his brother. When Oshoosi rejects that stability of sweat and small gains, we see the basis of the stereotypes that may always persist. True, he has his own wild ambition but it’s in direct opposition of the local white power structure everywhere and that’s not healthy. Lastly we have Harris’s limpid Elegba; he and Oshoosi were better than buddies in prison, and it’s not clear just how deeply Oshoosi wants to revive that relation here on the outside. These names are no accident; there are deeper, darker tales of forbidden religions buried in this script. There’s even a whisper floating about that McCraney may be the next August Wilson. That’s a strong claim, but one this show does nothing to dissuade.

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