Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mother Knows - The Best Brothers - Play Review

The Best Brothers - Tarragon Theatre - Toronto, ON - **** (out of 5 stars)
Written by Daniel MacIvor, Directed by Dean Gabourie
Runs until Oct. 27th, 2013

Daniel MacIvor's latest play, originally written for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's 2012 season, has been transferred over to Tarragon Theatre, and like the last Stratfest-to-Tarragon transfer (The Little Years), it has given the Toronto theatre audience a second chance at discovering a tiny gem of a play.


The Best Brothers is about a straight laced architect and his gay real estate agent brother as they come together to deal with the tragic death of their mother. After dying in a freak accident at a Gay Pride event, the Best brothers must confront their mother's demise, their relationships with her, each other, and how a pet dog shall be dealt with.

Considering the premise is such a morbid sounding situation, MacIvor's two actor play is surprisingly light and calming, with the right touch of humour that balances the more emotional aspects of the show. With MacIvor playing the architect brother and John Beale as the other, the relationship between the two brothers on display seems genuine in their pointed banter with the hints of familial love beneath the brotherly jibes.

With a season already under their belts, Beale and MacIvor's timing and chemistry together is spot on, and adding a great score by Jonathan Monro, and lighting design cues by Etai Erdal on a beautifully simple but shifting set by Julie Fox only underlines their perfect synchronization in the play. And in a clever move, both actors portray the mother giving each brother their own personal connection to the central figure.


MacIvor is wonderful as the actor in the play he wrote (not really a surprise), but the real discovery is John Beale, an actor I was not familiar with (a Nova Scotia native) but am glad has come to Toronto in this superb performance. I was not really familiar with director Dean Gabourie's work either but the whole production is smooth and feels seamless and very clever in its simplicity, allowing the Best Brothers' relationship and banter room to grow and fill the stage and our hearts.

Photos by Cylla von Tiedemann
Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com

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