by Alice Kors
I had the privilege of attending the opening night of The Fountain Theatre’s production of The Brothers Size. This show is the Los Angeles Premiere penned by up and coming playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney. The Brothers Size tells the story of two Louisiana-born brother’s, Ogun Henri and Oshoosi Size, coping with the younger brother’s release from prison—a story where emotions truly run the gamut.
This performance was not long after my orientation as The Fountain Theatre’s production intern and marked my first experience as an audience member there. Throughout the show, I was struck by the poignant tenor so delicately and accessibly expressed in the intimate space. The theatre is on the cozier side and its size, in my opinion, allows for a much greater expansion of feeling.
This was especially evidenced in my favorite moment of the play—the climax that carried the audience on a wave of thrill until the dénouement. Throughout the show the use of Yoruba mythology inspired rhythm, voice, movement and song brought out visceral elements that transcended sheer words. In this particular section, despite the tumultuous conflict of Oshooshi’s return from jail, the brothers share a minute of musical sunshine amidst the haze of doubt, fear and change surrounding their Bayou home. Little brother Oshooshi is goaded by his older brother Ogun to sing to him before they go to sleep. Much to his chagrin, but clearly obvious veiled delight, Oshooshi proceeds to put on an instrumental track to Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness.”
The duet that follows is a cathartic haven from the powerful, tear-filled monologues, which precede this moment. The “tender” bit of this song could not be felt more strongly. A burst sheer joy and love exuded from both performers which had the audience completely arrested.
I was leaning at the very edge of my seat, practically breathing down the necks of those sitting in front of me. Around me, passionate cheers and hollers flooded the room, topped by a mighty cry of “Sing it, baby!” from the back row.
And with that sentiment from an anonymous patron, I understood why this show was so special. In its entirety, The Brothers Size takes a valiant approach to vulnerability from all performers. As a society, we have such trouble letting people truly see us for the things we really are, both the good and the ugly. However, it is theatre pieces like these that remind me there are still those who are willing to put everything on the line for all to see. The total commitment to story, to character, to McCraney’s beautiful unique writing style, not only led the audience in, but moved them to impulsively participate. Coupled with the simplicity of this brilliant directing, the actors generously, tenderly, invited us in. That is truly a gift worth cheering about.
The Brothers Size Now – July 27 (323) 663-1525 MORE