Reviewed by Blair Zilkey
‘They really are best brothers… Playwright, also lead actor Daniel MacIvor has created a funny and poignant 80 minute experience that you should definitely see. The show reinforces once again that some of the most enjoyable theatre at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is found on the Studio Stage. Many readers may be familiar with this Canadian playwright’s work. I wasn’t, but believe me, I’m glad I am now. Photo by Cylla Von Tiedeman
There are many touching and thought provoking moments that make the audience laugh, smile, and no doubt recount their own experiences with the loss of a loved one.
Laugh at the loss of a loved one? Bunny Best, Hamilton and Kyle Best’s mother has died accidentally under quite hilarious circumstances. It is her death that brings the brothers together to take care of the many details. Along the way we share their journey of acceptance-of her death, of themselves, and of each other.
Older brother Hamilton (played by MacIvor) is straight-laced, task oriented, and focused on getting the job done by the book, “as it should be.” Kyle (played by John Beale) has more flair and is insistent on sending their mother out in style. The brothers have unresolved issues which they deal with in their own way and at their own time. Both actors do a super job at communicating their different approaches to life and their uniqueness. We feel their pain, frustration, desire, and ultimately, their joy at being understood by the other. Director (and Associate Artistic Director at Stratford) Dean Gabourie ensures the play moves at a very good pace.
The simplicity of the set and its use by the actors is first rate. It just goes to show that with very good direction-and a great script, lots of props and lavish settings aren’t required. It is encouraging to see the Festival support the development of new Canadian plays-this is the play’s worldwide debut, and one you should not miss.
“The Best Brothers” is at Stratford’s Studio Theatre. Until Sept. 16th