There is very little that I can say against Daniel MacIvor’s latest play, The Best Brothers. It’s not that I go into a play mean as an ogre, hoping to find something wrong, but I have to give a balanced report and that means criticism as well as compliments. Watch as I try to find something negative to say.
The play focuses on two very dissimilar brothers: Hamilton (played by Daniel MacIvor) is straight, strait-laced and a serious-minded architect; Kyle (played by John Beale) is gay, dating a sex worker, superficial-seeming and a real estate agent. When their mother dies at Toronto Pride, crushed by a large drag queen with poor balance, the two are forced together to plan her funeral. Their approaches to planning the event are as different as their personalities, and the ensuing friction causes them to confront old emotional wounds.
Not the most complicated plot, not very intellectually challenging. But it’s a light comedy, so it doesn’t need labyrinthine complexity, and the straightforward structure of the play allows the audience to focus on and enjoy the hilarious dialogue and MacIvor and Beale’s brilliant acting.
Something that jolts me out of my enjoyment of a play is poor writing — predictable dialogue, a lot of screaming in the place of real emotion, heaps of sarcasm in the place of wit, that kind of thing — but the dialogue in The Best Brothers is smooth as butter, and I sank into it like a butter-fetishist into a tub of butter at The Butter Fetishists’ Street Fair (something I made up simply for the sake of an original simile).
For a moment I thought the gay character was a bit too mainstream gay — that is, “gay” written for straights. But I think that was just a knee-jerk reaction to seeing a character with broader appeal. Sure, he made the heterosexuals in the audience laugh, but he made me laugh, too. I admire how MacIvor managed to crank out a play that (I think) should appeal to almost everyone, but which panders to no one.
Read our interview with MacIvor.