Joshua Elijah Reece (Ogun) and Rodrick Covington (Oshoosi). Picture: Rodger Bosch


DIRECTOR: Timothy Bond

CAST: Joshua Elijah Reese, Rodrick Covington, Sam Encarnación

VENUE: Baxter Theatre


RATING: ****

Ripped muscular bodies glistening with oil under the dimmed theatre lights is what first grabs your attention. Strong, fierce men dancing around a circle to the ritual of drumming, breathing heavily.

In the confinement of the intimate space, you can hear every detail of breath and emotion as three troubled African-American men desperately try to grapple with and express the feelings they have for each other.

The Brothers Size is a heated drama linking the Louisiana wetland in America and West African mythology in a captivating way that explores the relationship between the two Size brothers, Oshoosi and Ogun. Oshoosi is the younger brother Size, played by Rodrick Covington, who has an innate boyish charm and a broad infectious smile that tries to conceal his hurt. Recently released from prison and staying with his brother who raised him, Ogun, he’s a gifted singer longing to find his life’s purpose.

An American car shop story coupled with African tribal dancing and beats, it makes for an entertaining yet jarring production.

If at first the script seems discordant as the audience tries to fathom the correlation between the African tribal setting and the American theme, it becomes clearer if you know that writer Tarell Alvin McCraney’s work is derived from the Yoruba mythology of West Africa.

Joshua Elijah Reese’s hard and stern character, Ogun, is a hardworking car mechanic, fed up with his brother’s knocks with the law and restlessness but still trying to help him find his way.

Sam Encarnacion makes Elegba a charming, unsettling and oddly seductive presence as Oshoosi’s prison-protector with hidden agendas. We see through the mix of relationships how the brotherhood is threatened.

The events taking place in the story are told through narration by the actors themselves and evocative tribal music further strengthens the emotional tension in these relationships.

The contemporary piece combines humour and heart-rending emotions.

Audiences in South Africa may not be familiar with the Yoruba references, but the manner of storytelling helps establish a connection with the material.

The wrestling with anger born of social repression is very real and delivered with the rawest of emotions. Placed on an open bare stage with minimal props, using the words, lighting and discreet sound effects allows the audience’s imagination to fill in the scenes, with silences skilfully used as sharp as their words.

The added flavour of brilliant dancing (Stomp The Yard kind) and pitch perfect singing makes for deeply entertaining show.

Male love in its rawest form.