By Show and Tell
By Bree Davies
By Bree Davies
By Cory Casciato
By Emilie Johnson
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davis
By Josiah M. Hesse
This is not to say that Brother Mine isn't worth seeing. The play does have some touching, revealing or humorous moments, and some of the playwright's devices -- Malcolm's encounters with his younger self, for example -- work well. Other scenes have resonance because of the associations they raise. When Malcolm's birth father is accosted by skinheads, for example, it's terrifying, because most of us remember the vicious murder of an immigrant a few years ago by a skinhead at a Denver bus stop.
The cast is talented. David Pinckney brings strong emotional honesty to the role of Malcolm, and he's well matched by fourteen-year-old Chris Hampton as the character's younger self. These actors are very different -- and, obviously, Pinckney's a great deal more experienced -- but they share a certain quality, an apparent inner peacefulness that's extremely appealing.
There are strong performances throughout, from Laurence A. Curry's turn as the best friend who urges Malcolm to search out his roots, to Vanessa Lunnon as the pregnant girlfriend, to Justin Thompson's dopey, snickering skinhead. Margaret Amateis Casart is terrific as Malcolm's adoptive mother, Sarah, who's required, on her first appearance on stage, to tell her young son a didactic little bedtime story about Mr. Same and Mr. Different. She does it with such humor and energy that it works. David C. Riley as big brother Anthony has the most multifaceted character to work with, and he makes good use of the opportunity. His is a tremendous performance, full of humor, pain, strength and surprise. Riley has a big, cynical grin reminiscent of Jim Carrey's, and an equally manic energy, but he's also capable of tenderness and quiet. The work of these actors seems particularly generous -- and their concentration commendable -- given the fact that they're working in an almost entirely undefined space, sometimes only inches from the audience.
There were six people in attendance when I saw Brother Mine, and it's not hard to figure out why. Watching a play at the LIDA Project can be an uncomfortable experience. I don't know if it's beyond the group's resources, but the cavernous acting space really needs to be reworked. As it is, it drinks up the action. Also, the noisy heater got turned off when the play began, and the auditorium became bitterly cold. (Fortunately, someone figured this out by the second act and left the heater on. It turned out the actors were still audible.) A concession table with warm drinks, which would have been very welcome during the intermission, wasn't forthcoming. And at the end of the play, the actors didn't even bother to come out and take their bows, leaving us to wait a while, then wander aimlessly into the night.