“The Brothers Size” – Stray Cat Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ September 29, 2014


Stray Cat Theatre, Tempe Performing Arts Center
Tempe, AZ

Dramatic but believably compelling acting and superbly modulated but understated staging are the perfect ingredients that make Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “The Brothers Size” an exemplary theater piece for Stray Cat Theatre’s season premiere.

The fine production is masterminded by artistic director Ron May, but it is McCraney’s intelligent play that artfully shows how two brothers and a friend struggle to figure out life’s intricacies.  Set in Ogun’s sloppy rural Louisiana bayou car repair shop, his recently paroled brother, Oshooosi, tries to re-establish his life by working in the shop.  But the reality of a hardworking life doesn’t have great appeal and when an old friend, Elegba shows up, his dreams and loyalties are challenged.

The two drifters realize they need to belong somewhere to fit into life but easy solutions taunt them as they try to find their place  The play shows the reality facing many young people today as they strive to belong but aren’t always willing to make the compromises necessary.  This is a challenging debate to sit through but it captures the reality that many face.

May’s staging is tense and taunt for the struggles these guys face but don’t conquer successfully.  Eric Beeck’s spacious set captures the bizarre ambience of the sloppy repair shop.

Most significantly, May has found three gifted actors who execute these roles with tough realism.  Damon J. Bolling plays Ogun with the forceful determination of a guy who has had no breaks but hopes to prove himself with the repair shop.  Michael Thompson is masterful as Oshoosi, who hopes to put his life of crime behind him in the repair shop.  DeJean Brown is the fast and loose Elegba who reminds Oshoosi that drifting through life might be preferable.  These guys stubbornly fight for independence.

Stray Cat Theatre consistently brings to the local theater scene edgier scripts that provide challenging glimpses into bizarre factions of life that many theatergoers never witness.  “The Brothers Size” is a hard play to sit through but for those willing, it provides insight into the grittier side of real lives.  It continues through Saturday (October 4).  For tickets, call the Stray Cat Theatre box office at 480-227-1766 or order online at www.straycattheatre.org.

Grade: A