Thursday, August 06, 2015

The Best Brothers

Will Springhorn Jr., left, and Christian Martin star
in the B Street Theatre's production of "Best Brothers."
Courtesy photo
The lobby of the B Street Theatre was filled with dogs from Sutter Medical Center’s pet therapy program on opening night of “The Best Brothers,” a play by Daniel MacIvor, directed by Buck Busfield. The promotional material for the play promised that we would leave the theater wanting to get a dog. Sadly, the lobby dogs were the best part of the evening.

Billed as a “bittersweet comedy,” this play is more bitter than sweet, and comedic only sporadically. It tells the story of two brothers, Kyle Best (Will Springhorn Jr.) and Hamilton Best (Christian Martin) — both actors are making their B Street debut — brought together by the sudden death of their mother, Bunny, at a gay pride event involving a drag queen named PiƱa Colada.

As the estranged brothers meet to plan her funeral, they can’t agree on anything, from the writing of the obituary (should they call her “loving” or “beloved”?), to the date of the viewing (one day? two days? Should there be food?), who will give the eulogy (which ends up a physical struggle in front of the mourners), to what is going to happen to the third “son,” Enzo, the Italian greyhound Bunny adopted, who was her whole life.

It appears that this is a classic tale of “mom always liked you best,” as both men felt the other was her favorite for one reason or another, and Hamilton blames Kyle for their mother’s death. If Kyle weren’t gay, she wouldn’t have been at a gay pride event in the first place.

From time to time, each brother dons one of their mom’s hats and gloves and gives a soliloquy as Mother, which gives us insights into her life, and especially into the men in her life. The actors also briefly each play the invisible dog.

As they come together to go through the contents of her house, more is uncovered about the brothers and secrets are revealed about the relationship of each brother with their mother.

Perhaps the reason this play seemed so wooden was because it appeared that the actors were stumbling over their lines in part. Perhaps as the play progresses, things will smooth out.

The set by Shawn Weinshank was utilitarian, some chrome-framed chairs that moved around a lot. Costumes by Paulette Sand-Gilbert nicely gave a clue to the character of the two brothers, from Hamilton’s clean-cut suits to Kyle’s loud pastel plaid shirt with pink tie.

In the end, the best that can be said about this play is that it is only one act, and so is over in 90 minutes.

And I did not leave wanting to add another dog to our family.

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