Tarrell Avlin Mcraney, author of The Brothers Size is both a playwright and poet. He is also enormously talented. Touching on and inspired by the mythology of the Yoruba people of Western Africa, this three character play is a powerful and intriguing story of brotherhood. Oshoosi (pronounced OCC) has just been released from prison and comes to live with his brother, Ogun (pronounced Ogoon). Ogun, which is God of Iron in Yoruba mythology, is a hard working, do the right thing, older brother who owns a car repair shop, and naturally wants his younger brother Oshoosi to get serious about getting a job and going straight. Oshoosi has good intentions, but would like to taste a bit of freedom, after being incarcerated for so long. The third character is Elgba, which in Yoruba religion is a shift shaper. Elegba has been in prison with Oshoosi and their close relationship threatens the bond the brothers have.
From the knockout tribal dance prologue where a circle is drawn on the stage, until the play’s inevitable conclusion The Brothers Size enthralls with its rich language and magnificent theatricality. Timothy Bond’s direction is kinetic and he makes all the right choices when he emphasizes the physical movement of his very fit actors to help underscore the poetic and operatic dialogue. With a minimal set and with most of the action taking place on a bare black stage inside a circle The Brothers Size is an electrifying example of fantastic theater that doesn’t rely on flash, just great performances, great language and great direction.
Rodrick Covington is magnetic, charismatic, vulnerable, funny and authentic as Oshoosi, the ex con. Equally as impressive is Sam Encarnacion as Elegba, he is alluring and elusive. His role is constantly shifting from narrator, herald, sidekick, confidante to jester. He is one moment, nurturing and protective and the next dangerous and manipulative. He assumes identities, sings, dances and does it all with great stage presence. When I saw Encarnacion in the lobby, I could hardly believe that the actor was the character in the play, as he appeared much younger and much less assuming in real life. The trio is completed by Joshua Elijah Reese. Reese strikes the right chord between righteousness and concern as an older brother, whose role has always been to both protect and scold his younger brother.
Hats off to Syracuse Stage! They have yet another superb show running. And run is what you should do, right to the theater to see The Brothers Size before it closes.