Key Reviews: The Brothers Size

The Key: Young Critics Mentorship Program is back for our third year, and with a new format! This year’s cohort: Ada Alozie, Alisa Boland, Anyah Royale Akanni,  Hannah Antman, Mariah Schultz, and Yiwen Wu. The first show of our session was The Brothers Size at Steppenwolf for Young Adults. Read selections from each young critic below, and click through to their author profiles to read the full critique and learn more about them! The Key is co-facilitated by Regina Victor and Oliver Sava. 

Yiwen Wu:Present, but invisible. For over 2.3 million imprisoned Americans, their life and struggle against the profound racial and social-class biases in our criminal justice system are often overlooked. At Steppenwolf for Young Adults, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s poetically thrilling The Brothers Size strives to confront the brutal legacy of incarceration, through a tender story of brotherhood and love–how the intimate ties that bind us together can free us in a world that fails to be free.” – Read Yiwen Wu’s full critique and learn more about the author!

Ada Alozie: “Walking into Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre for Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brothers Size, directed by Monty Cole, I am struck by the black rubber shreds that swallow the floor of the stage where upon a mound lies a mattress instead of a tomb. Yu Shibagaki’ set instantly transported me into a world I had nothing but curiosity toward, and the subsequent performance in turn satisfied every ounce of intrigue and interest. McCraney draws on Yoruba mythology and folkloric traditions to tell a story about brothers rooted in the cultural history of a West-African ethnic group.” – Read Ada Alozie’s full critique and learn more about the author! 

Alisa Boland: “When do our closest relationships become chains? Monty Cole’s masterful, heartfelt rendition of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brothers Size at Steppenwolf may have an answer. Ogun Size, hardworking and serious, has poured his life into his successful auto-repair business. He struggles to shepherd his younger brother, the recently paroled Oshoosi Size, into his way of life: steady, dedicated, and industrious. Oshoosi, restless and care-free, chafes under Ogun’s constant criticism and strict expectations. He longs to use his newfound freedom to explore Africa, Madagascar—really anywhere but home. Ogun is confined to home by choice, Oshoosi by necessity.” – Read Alisa Boland’s full critique and learn more about the author! 

Anyah Royale Akanni: The Brother’s Size, directed by Monty Cole, gives the audience a view into black masculinity like looking at the inside of a geode. Though masculinity is typically portrayed as being at odds with vulnerability and sensuality, the beauty of this play lies in bringing exposure to the softer relationships between the men. Brought to life by playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, Oshoosi (Patrick Agada), Ogun (Manny Buckley), and Elegba (Rashaad Hall) skillfully showcase through friendship and brotherhood a nuanced view of masculinity, which allows the audience an insight that feels both vulnerable and private.” – Read Anyah Royale Akanni’s full critique and learn more about the author!

Hannah Antman:The Brothers Size first premiered as a part of Steppenwolf’s main stage season in 2010, as the middle triptych in McCraney’s three-play cycle, The Brother/Sister Plays. Since then, McCraney has exploded as an artistic force: as a Steppenwolf ensemble member (where he co-wrote and starred in a raucous and queer Ms. Blakk for President just this summer,) and as an acclaimed screenwriter. He is most widely known for his play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, which he co-adapted with Barry Jenkins into the Oscar-winning triumph, Moonlight. Due to his prolific and fast-moving career, many will be surprised to learn that McCraney was just nineteen years old when he wrote The Brothers Size. The play accordingly honors and grapples with the very real and pressing issues that young people, particularly young men of color, face.” – Read Hannah Antman’s full critique and learn more about the author! 

Mariah Schultz: “There’s an inherent holy quality to Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brothers Size embodied in Steppenwolf Theater’s space from the play’s first opening chords. Rapt drumming, mesmerizing movement, and the grace of a talented trio immediately entice with an underlying eeriness. Without speaking any dialogue and only raising their voices through haunting melodies, this striking dynamic causes a rippling distortion. Three men start in solidarity with a bond that defies personal differences, but it’s clear they will not end this journey together.” – Read Mariah Schultz’s full critique and learn more about the author!

The Brothers Size runs at Steppenwolf for Young Adults through October 19th.

Relaxed Sensory Friendly and open caption performance with touch tours available tomorrow, Oct. 19th at 3pm.

Patrick Agada
Manny Buckley
Rashaad Hall

Writer: Tarell Alvin McCraney
Director: Monty Cole
Casting Director: JC Clementz
Scenic Design: Yu Shibagaki
Costume Design: Mieka van der Ploeg
Lighting Design: Claire Chrzan
Sound Design: Jeffrey Levin
Projection Design: Rasean Davonte Johnson
Production Stage Manager: Michelle Medvin
Photography: Michael Brosilow

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