Two brothers face difficult decisions in latest drama at The Old Globe
By Diana Saenger
In “The Brothers Size,” now playing at the Old Globe Theatre, brothers Oshoosi Size (Okieriete Onaodowan) and Ogun Henri Size (Joshua Elijah Reese) are as different as spinach and French fries. They grew in the Louisiana bayou, but lost their mom as young boys. They were raised by an aunt and have unkind words to say about her. Yet each one chose a different path and has dissimilar personalities, hopes and ethics.
The story by award-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney (“Porgy and Bess”) and directed by Tea Alagić, is delivered through poetic lines and forceful beats — infused with the music and rhythms of the South.
At the first glance of the set, one wonders what these actors can do with a circle of rocks in the middle of a blank stage. There is a short time to contemplate those thoughts as percussionist Jonathan Melville Pratt entertains with original music on the drums before the play begins.
When Onaodowan, Reese and Elegba (Antwayn Hopper) enter the room to a chant, they create a large circle of sand that resembles a particular space. For Ogun, it’s the home he shares with Oshoosi or the garage where he’s a mechanic. Ogun occasionally replays some of his recent days in jail, while Elegba uses the space to stick out his shiny chest of rippled muscles or to smooze Oshoosi, enticing him into some unwise decisions.
Playwright McCraney already called a voice that will shape theater (The Brother/Sister Plays: “The Brothers Size,” “In the Red,” “Brown Water,” and “Marcus”) describes this play as a fable. He said he wrote from inspiration of the Yoruba culture and mythology prominent during the years of the Atlantic slave trade. Using the theme of brotherhood, McCraney intended the play to be sparse of exterior objects so it can play anywhere in the world.
In some way, less is more. When one of the characters is ready to release his lines, he emphatically jumps inside or outside the circle and repeats what he’s doing “Ogun Henri Size at work.” It not only simplifies the setting of the scene, it opens a door to what these characters do and who they are.
Ogun is anxious to help his brother and get him on a new track after prison, but Oshoosi sees his brother as wasting his time in working too hard and getting nowhere. His friend Elegba, who also recently got out of prison, is far more fun to be with, and unlike Ogun (and the audience), Oshoosi cannot see the evil aura that Elegba emits.
Oshoosi is traditionally depicted as a solitary hunter. Ogun is the ancient warrior-god of metalwork. Elegba is a spirit of chaos.
The occasional drumming and music feeds the emotions of these characters, and it’s easy to see their different sides when Ogun and Oshoosi argue about the virtues of each other. It’s very heartfelt when Ogun says “I burned my chances at anything so as not to leave you behind.”
The core of “The Brothers Size” is powerful, entertaining and has a good message, but patrons should be warned that the play has continuous vulgar language and repeated use of the “n” word.
If you go
What: ‘The Brothers Size’
When: Matinees, evenings to Feb. 24
Where: Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre at The Old Globe Theatre Center, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park
Tickets: From $29
Phone: (619) 23-GLOBE
- ‘The Brothers Size’ will heat up The Old Globe stage
- Good People brings humor to touchy situations at The Old Globe
- Shakespeare Festival underway at The Globe in Balboa Park
- Old Globe’s summer Shakespeare Festival is back with a trio of classics
- San Diego Jr. Theatre stages ‘The Miracle Worker’ in Balboa Park
Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=101490