THE BROTHERS SIZEby Tarell Alvin McCraney
Directed by Tre Garrett
Set Design/Technical Director – Michael Pettigrew
Lighting Design – Nikki Deshea Smith
Costume Design – Barbara O’Donoghue
Sound Design – David Lanza
Choreographer – JuNene K
Stage Manager – Megan Beddingfield
Ogun Size – Rico Romalus Parker
Oshoosi Size – Seun Soyemi
Elegba – Adam A. Anderson
Drummer – S-Ankh Rasa
Reviewed Performance: 10/4/2014
Reviewed by Angela Newby, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Jubilee Theatre is starting their 2014-2015 season with phenomenal production of The Brothers Size. Director Tre Garrett held nothing back with this show and I left the theater feeling every emotion possible. Garrett guided the three actors toward a vivid intimacy that hypnotized the audience.
The Brother Size is the second in a trilogy of works entitled The Brother and Sister Plays by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Referencing Yoruban legends, it uses African-change invocations, with characters speaking their stage directions to invite the audience into the story and remind them the audience that they are part of the experience. McCraney believes that this allows the actor a chance to really focus on telling the story rather than pretending they are someone else.
The show has strong language and adult situations, and is aimed at audiences age fifteen and older. Director Tre Garrett states, “The language is sometimes strong and hard, yet so are the circumstances of the characters’ lives. The language is at other times hauntingly poetic and rich, so too are the circumstances of the characters’ lives.” While adult in nature, this play would not be what it is without the language and content.
The set design by Michael Pettigrew was outstanding. The front of the Size home is weathered and rusted, with broken and dusty windows that magnified the status of the family. Yet it is the bars of the jail cell, which were part of the front of the house, that were chilling and held so much meaning to the play. Overturned buckets for chairs and an unadorned table only added to the simplicity of the brothers’ lives. Pettigrew kept the set simple to enhance the rest of the play.
Barbara O’Donoghue’s costume choices were simple and brilliant. Ogun, Oshoosi and Elegba were all dressed in jeans with a rope belt and tank top. Elegba’s rolled cuff and sagging pants denoted his mysterious past, while Ogun’s oily rag represented his hours of working in his mechanic shop. As all were dressed the same, the focus remained on the story being woven by these amazing actors.
David Lanza’s sound design layered another dimension and helped bring the audience out of the play’s heavy content or back into the middle of the terrors portrayed. Soulful and heavy, the preshow music set the mood. Each sound effect was timed perfectly and enhanced the scenes.
Lighting design by Nikki Deshea Smith moved continuously between the shadows of the night and the bright of day. Every lighting change was well executed and moved seamlessly with the script.
JuNene K’s choreography was breathtaking and beautiful. The fluid movements and interchange between the three cast members mesmerized me and had me in tears. The choreography cleverly interpreted the heaviness and mystery of the play, from the opening scene through each nightmare of the play.
Drummer S-Ankh Rasa was an essential part inand helped add to the style of the play. Remaining stone-faced throughout the show, his hands and technique are mind blowing. Each and every rhythm was perfectly timed with the spoken word or choreography and his drumming gave me chills. Rasa is a talented musician and his performance was exactly what this play needed.
Rico Romalus Parker played Ogun Size, Oshoosi’s older brother and a hard-working mechanic. Ogun struggles to keep his brother on the straight and narrow path. Parker was spectacular and intense throughout. With clenched fist, an “in your face” attitude and overpowering tone, the big brother mentality was not only seen, but heard and felt. With every heavy breath and quiver in his voice, I was spellbound. Yet it is in his warm smile and tender glances that one sees the love and complex relationship between Ogun and Oshoosi. Parker’s range of emotion was believable and gut-wrenching from the sheer power of his opening dance moves to his shed tears in the last scene. Parker not only knew Ogun, but became Ogun.
Oshoosi Size, the younger brother haunted by his past, was played by Seun Soyemi. Oshoosi is the family introvert because of his former life. Soyemi, with drawn shoulders and down-cast glances, enhanced who Oshoosi was. His strong vocals and stoic facial expressions portrayed the strong will of Oshoosi. Yet in the next instant he could be reduced to tears and shaking when nightmares of his past blinded him with terror. There were times, though, when Soyemi held back emotion so completely that it left a scene feeling empty.
Oshoosi’s friend Elegba was portrayed by Adam A. Anderson. He also plays the sheriff and Anderson handled the shifting perfectly, never once losing character. This was no small feat in a short scene and Anderson moved quickly between the two with distinguishing stances and vocalizations. Elegba is a complex character struggling with his role in Oshoosi’s life now that they are back in their hometown. Anderson’s bold voice and confident gait quickly turned unsteady when confronting Ogun. Anderson’s beady eyes and haughty laughs were chilling to the bone and intensified the mood of the play.
Jubilee Theatre’s The Brothers Size was both extraordinary and heart wrenching. The talent of the cast and design team created a beautiful and artfully told story of humanity. The power of brotherly love crosses all bounds and this play does just that.
506 Main St.
Ft. Worth, TX 76102
Runs through October 26th
Thursday-Saturday at 8:00 pm, and Saturday-Sunday at 3:00 pm
Ticket prices for Thursday and matinee performances are $22.00. Friday and Saturday evenings are $26.00. High school and college students may purchase RUSH tickets fifteen minutes before show time, subject to availability and limited to one (1) per valid student ID.
For tickets and information, go to http://www.jubileetheatre.org/ or call their box office at 817-338-4411.