Monday, March 01, 2010

The Brother / Sister Plays (The SOB Review)

The Brother / Sister Plays (The SOB Review) - Upstairs Theatre, Steppenwolf, Chicago, Illinois

**** (out of ****)

Imagine my utter disappointment when I realized at the January 31 opening night celebration for Steppenwolf's production of The Brother / Sister Plays -- Tarrell Alvin McCraney's excellent and deeply poetic trilogy -- that I would only see two of the three parts.

Somehow, I had neglected to read the notice that if I had wanted to see In The Red And Brown Water that same day, I needed to get there in the early afternoon. But after being completely enthralled by the lyrical power of The Brothers Size / Marcus; Or The Secret Of Sweet, there was just no way I was not going to return to see what is essentially the first act.

Standing as a towering achievement, not only for the incredibly young yet wise-beyond-his-years playwright, but also for its outstanding ensemble, The Brother / Sister Plays may ultimately prove to be the most important new work of this new decade. It's honest depiction of life as McCraney knew it in New Orleans coupled with a fanciful air provides a tremendously satisfying depth.

While director Tina Landau only helmed portions of this sweeping work prior to its Steppenwolf engagement, her singular focus here ensures that McCraney's gift for language dances just as soulfully as the beautifully choreographed In The Red And Brown Water. Each play is anchored by the impeccable K. Todd Freeman as Ogun Size, arguably the heart pulsating throughout this ambitious work; Freeman imbues Ogun with a rare level of humanity that makes him simply breathtaking to watch.

Few shows have moved me over the past year like The Brother / Sister Plays. While each segment could stand on its own, its the confluence of all three together that make this a must-see work. It's truly marvelous in every sense of the word.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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