The Best Brothers follows Kyle and Hamilton as they learn of their mother’s death, make the necessary arrangements, and cope with the loss of their loved one while navigating the fights and friendship of fraternity. Should you see it?
At first glance, the story of Best Brothers appears simple: two men have recently lost their mother and now have to deal with all the details of death as well as their own profound sense of grief. Underlying this straight-forward narrative, however, is some complex and fascinating character development and an utterly captivating story of love, family, and forgiveness.
As anyone who has experienced the loss of a close family member knows, this process is rarely pretty and never easy, particularly when sibling rivalry comes into play. Andy Massingham and John Ng play off each other brilliantly as brothers Kyle and Hamilton, respectively. Hamilton is an accomplished architect who takes life seriously and concerns himself with how respectful, tasteful, and appropriate the service honoring his mother will be. Meanwhile, Kyle is a colourful, energetic real estate agent who is wracked by indecision, oblivious to etiquette, and hilariously embarrassing – particularly when interrupting his brother’s heartfelt eulogy. The magic of The Best Brothers is how it remains believable, realistic, and heartbreaking despite the absurdity and humor happening on stage.
The disputes, disagreements, resentment, and painful confessions between brothers are interspersed with monologues from the memory of their mother, played alternatively by Ng and Massingham. In these performances, Ng really shines, showing us a graceful, charming woman filled with strength and passion. These scenes add some much needed subtly to balance the craziness of the brother’s reality. They also add depth to our understanding of their loss and give us insight as to the underlying friction in the family. While I enjoyed Kyle and Hamilton, their mother was my favorite character as I found her exceptionally well-rounded and interesting.
Everything about this production was spot-on. The simple set transformed elegantly from a hip condominium where the brothers prepare obituaries and thank you cards, to the church where the visitation and service take place. The lighting in those sanctuary scenes was particularly effective and beautiful. The audio effects during the mother’s scenes give them an otherworldly, almost reverent feel. The costumes throughout the show were appropriately somber but still gave a distinct sense of each character and their emotional journey throughout the story. Generally speaking, the design work was really impressive and did much to support the strong acting and writing of The Best Brothers.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you thought. How did you feel about the changes that Kyle and Hamilton went through? Does this show ring true to your own experiences of loss? Is your relationship with your siblings similar? Join the discussion and let me know in the comments below.