REVIEW: The Brothers Size at Trustus Theatre – by Jennifer Hill

Promotional photo for The Brothers Size at Trustus.

There’s something beautiful happening over in the Trustus Side Door Theater right now, and I’m afraid you’re going to miss it. Director Chad Henderson skillfully brings us The Brothers Size, part two in the Brother/Sister plays by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Part One, In The Red and Brown Water, was performed on the mainstage at Trustus last season and also directed by Henderson. Each play in the trilogy is linked, but can also easily stand on its own. This particular production is a gem, the kind of show that leaves you feeling like you’re a little bit better off for having seen it; your eyes now wider and your heart a little more open. It’s theater at its best and it’s happening in your city.

From the moment I walked into the intimate Side Door Theater, I felt like I was transported to the Louisiana Bayou. The sound of cicadas fill the air, and butterflies in illuminated jars (tap on one and you’ll get a surprise) rest on simple but effective stage pieces designed by Kimi Maeda (a JAY visual artist nominee for 2015). The lighting design by Chet Longley and the sound design by Baxter Engle effectively complete the scene.

The seating is in the round and in this case that means you are part of the stage. There is something magical about being so close to the performers. The energy exchange between the actors and the audience takes things to another level, especially with actors as talented as these. The characters in the play are named after and based off of deities in the Yoruba religion, which originated primarily in southwestern Nigeria. Ogun Size (Jabar K. Hankins) is a hardworking mechanic who shows tough love to his troubled younger brother Oshooi Size (Christopher “Leven” Jackson) who has recently been released from prison.  Oshooi’s friend and ex-cellmate Elegba (Bakari Lebby) is the unknown quantity that sets the play in motion. All three actors are skilled, passionate, and do excellent work here. The raw emotion in Hankins’ eyes broke my heart in such a beautiful way, another benefit of being in such an intimate space. The actors tell a highly relevant story to our contemporary moment, examining confinement, freedom, loss of innocence and family.  As I stood to leave I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. Henderson has created a very physical, very alive piece of work. He has a unique perspective and a talent for creating moments where music and movement come together harmoniously. He and his cast create a story rich in rhythm and beauty.

I urge you to go see this show, not only because it is good but because if we support it then we can have more things like it. And I, for one, want more things like it. Get your tickets now; the show runs through October 31st.

About Jasper

What Jasper Said is the blogging arm of Jasper – The Word on Columbia Arts, a new written-word oriented arts magazine that serves artists and arts lovers in the Columbia, SC area and its environs in four ways: Via Print Media – Jasper is a bi-monthly magazine, releasing in print six times per year in September, November, January, March, May & July, on the 15th of each month. Jasper covers the latest in theatre and dance, visual arts, literary arts, music, and film as well as arts events and happenings; Via Website – Jasper is an interactive website complete with a visual arts gallery, messages from Jasper, an arts events calendar that is updated several times daily, bite-sized stories on arts events, guest editorials, local music, dance & theatre videos, community surveys, and more; Via Blog – What Jasper Said -- you're reading this now -- is a daily blog featuring a rotating schedule of bloggers from the Jasper staff as well as guest bloggers from throughout the arts community; Via Twitter – Jasper Advises is a method of updating the arts community on arts events, as they happen, with more than a half dozen active tweeters who live, work, and play inside the arts community everyday ~ Jasper Advises keeps the arts community abreast of what not to miss, what is happening when it is happening, and where to be to experience it first hand.
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