20 November 2007

Two Plays About Brothers

Rag and Bone by Noah Haidle, at Rattlestick. I'd never seen a Noah Haidle play before, but I've read a few. This was definitely my favorite. It has a gentleness that his other plays lack, and which I think is necessary to balance his particular, sometimes harsh, cleverness. Noah Haidle does not write worlds that are pretty or gentle or kind, except maybe in Rag and Bone, or at least he's writing characters for whom we want a gentle, kind world, characters who are themselves gentle and kind, from the ladder salesman to the organ thief, to the poet, prostitute, and pimp. (If you like Liz Meriwether's work, you'll love this.) This play also has a specific sense of poetry, in action as much as language, that almost always hits the mark. The performances are also stunning - Michael Chernus, Matt Stadelmann, Henry Stram, and Didi O'Connell are a veritable master-class in How To Be Awesome. The set is also lovely and sad and clever. And funny. Just like this play.

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I'd been looking forward to The Brothers Size at the Public for a long time, having seen another play of Tarell McCraney's (Marcus, or: the Secret of Sweet) at Yale last spring. I'm happy and relieved to say that I was not disappointed. This is an incredibly eloquent production of a beautiful and compelling play. McCraney's language is unlike anything I've heard (although there are odd similarities to some Jordan Harrison, but more in technique than style or tone), and Tea Alagic's production does this exceptional play justice. Brian Tyree Henry knocked me out, with a warm, funny, heartbreaking performance, but the whole cast (of three) is fantastic. (They are also - bonus - very easy on the eyes.) After I saw Marcus, I came home raving with compairsons to Tony Kushner, not in style, but in bigness, in potential to upend the American Theatre. Athough The Brothers Size is a smaller and more familiar story, I'm still surprised that people aren't all abuzz with what I think is an exceptional voice and production. It's in the tiny Shiva Theatre at the Public, really a rehearsal room painted black. I don't know why everyone isn't talking about this. They should be. It plays through December 23rd. Go see it.

1 comment:

Aaron Riccio said...

I think people stopped talking about "The Brothers Size" when the Times decided to just reprint an old review. Nothing says "fresh new play" like "old stale review," even if it sings nothing but praise for the show.