PLAYWRIGHT: Tarel Alvin McCraney

DIRECTOR: Timothy Bond

CAST: Sam Encarcacion, Roderick Covington, Joshua Reese

VENUE: Barney Simon Theatre at the Market

Until: July 1

RATING: ****

Flexing their muscles, the playwright, the director and the three actors grab you by the scruff from the start. This is why one goes to theatre. It’s about a text that infiltrates the heart, it’s about new voices (perhaps just for you), players finding ways to express them best and a director who knows how to weave a story in all its richness.

There’s not much that is familiar about this production, but for the story that deals with brotherly love – the brothers Size, in fact – among others. How do you hold on to each other in tough times when the one seems to drain the other, or it takes too much strength to hold on and hold high? But if you don’t and the one stumbles, the other finds himself in a prison of another kind.

“Whenever you fall everyone looks at me like I f****** pushed you… That’s my f****** life sentence… That’s my lockdown…” says the older Size to his sibling just out of prison.

Older brother Elegba Size has his own car business; he’s the one making a life, the strong one, the stable one. Young Oshoosi Size is constantly watched over by his older sibling, fresh out of prison with dreams of a life, but not much hope of anything happening.

On the periphery of their lives is Oshooshi’s friend and prison mate Ogun, who is shrouded in slight darkness yet trying to find the light.

Starting off with a dramatic ritual as the three magnificent physical specimens dance and lament about the rough road ahead, there’s a light shone on a damaged existence which is then fleshed out as their stories play out. Everything is not how it seems.

The text, which is rooted in a socio-economic reality, unravels with flashes and insights too many to hold on to or even comprehend, yet always in a language that has you marvelling as the playwright takes words that run through sentences to shed light on something that quickly disappears – yet lingers as you feel the burden of the brothers in arms.

There’s much that’s implied, but this is a story fleshed out with ritual and rite as a circle of light implies from the start.

The young playwright draws on Yoruba and Bayou mythology and the story drifts in and out of reality with stage instructions becoming part of the spoken word. In the beginning it almost brings a cartoon-like feel to the proceedings, but as the wounds are turned inside out, it becomes part of the play.

Or the way, the playwright juggles with words:

Weary of saying anything

Weary of talking


She may be weary… Young girls they do get weary!

This is the kind of exchange that’s constantly happening with words skipping from one sentence to the next as you try to hold on to ideas, listen to their stories and get caught up in their woes. It’s a magnificent text spectacularly told by three actors who leap into your soul as they share their story with every sinew of their being.

And while it might all run too rapidly as the events almost stumble across one another and you hardly have the impulse to hold on, once you leave and have time to reflect, it returns in waves.