The Best Brothers by Daniel MacIvor

Dates and Venue May 8 – 19, 2018, 7.30pm; matinees on Sat & Sun at 2pm | Kay Meek Arts Centre, 1700 Mathers Avenue, West Vancouver

Director Sharon Bajer Set Design Ross Nichol Costume Design Suzannah Marriott Lighting Design Ross Nichol Sound Design Sharon Bajer Stage Manager Christine Leroux

Reviewer John Jane

With an event advertised as The Best Brothers, prospective patrons heading for the Kay Meek Arts Centre may be forgiven for expecting a concert. But in fact, Daniel MacIvor’s “bold” comedy (yes, that’s what the program says it is) is a two-handed, three character – well, four if you count the unseen dog – play that has humour, intelligence and just a little pathos.

Hamilton and Kyle Best are siblings who obviously don’t always get along. Hamilton is an architect, Kyle is a realtor, and so together they represent both ends of the real estate structure. One might say that the brothers typify each end of personal temperament. Like all successful comedy pairings, they play off each other’s proclivity. Kyle (Ryan James Miller) provides the comic schtick, Hamilton (Aidan De Salaiz) is the straight man.

The play picks up the story in the chaotic repercussion of their mother’s untimely demise; the result of a bizarre accident whilst attending a gay pride parade to support Kyle’s sexual leanings. Mom has long separated from her former spouse, so it’s left to the boys to take care of everything: the funeral arrangements, the obituary – and the dog.

The decision about what to do with mom’s hyper-sensitive canine companion becomes an artful subtext. The dog has a predilection to chewing up antique furniture, demolishing a $250,000 kitchen reno and at least partly responsible for ending a marriage.

The show gets its driving force from the brother’s conflicting sensibilities. Their gay/straight camp achieves humourous heights when they share the podium to deliver mother's eulogy. The gay factor is handled in an au courant style. Kyle comes across as comical, but not ridiculous.

Aidan De Salaiz and Ryan James Miller each turn in a top drawer performance. At specific points in the show, both actors take turns to embody Mother Best, who serves up a matriarch’s narrative of the family background with smartly written gossipy monologues.

Ross Nichol’s combined set and lighting design is simple, but effective. Not much more than a pair of matching chairs that are occasionally joined together as a sofa, a small coffee table and a display stand. There are six floor-to-ceiling columns encircling centre stage built from what looks to be giant LegoTM bricks that give some intended context to Hamilton’s disenchantment with LegoTM .

Director Sharon Bajer, a Studio 58 alumna, who is also responsible for the sound design maintains an easy flowing pace, letting the actors do their stuff.

© 2018 John Jane