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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Theatre review: The Best Brothers is uneven

Family dramedy becomes weighted to one of two brothers

The Best Brothers is a family drama that focuses on isolation. In an attempt to balance comedy with family drama, playwright Daniel MacIvor sacrifices the opportunity for two rounded characters, instead he places focus on just one.

The Best Brothers follows Kyle and Hamilton Best, two brothers dealing with the estate of their late mother. Through their struggles to agree and connect, both with her and each other, the brothers learn that love comes with no careful plan in mind. While Hamilton (Aidan deSalaiz) is the uptight architect of the family, Kyle (Ryan James Miller), in a wonderfully physically comedic performance, is the free-flow real estate agent.

And it is those jobs that clumsily echo the characters’ roles in the story. Drama is created by Hamilton’s desire for order, while Kyle is the agent of comedy and change – working quietly in the background to solve his brother’s struggles against his own personality.

Often this odd couple approach works, but in this case, the playwright leans on the imbalance between the dramatic and comedic to the point where Kyle is little more than a comedic tag line to the development of his brother.

As Kyle, Miller is a wonderfully physical comic player who brings a fascinating array of facial and verbal tics to his character. His reactions to Hamilton are by turns exacting, yet endearing. His charisma and skill almost covers the character’s lack of depth.

deSalaiz’s Hamilton on the other hand, plays with an imbalanced emotional scale. At times manically angry, at others, unnaturally stiff, he could do with a few more moments to simply breathe.

Ross Nichol’s set design is simple, yet effective, working directly with his lighting design to create an ever changing cascade of watercolour light trickling onto the action. Sharon Bajer’s direction is beautifully exacting in the physical detailing of the action, and scene transitions are brilliantly handled, allowing the actors to enhance their characters while still moving furniture.

While the script and direction offer a few delightful technical moments, the uneven acting and shallow script mean The Best Brothers is just fine, at best.

The Best Brothers by Daniel MacIvor. Directed by Sharon Bajer. Presented by the Kay Meek Arts Centre. On stage at the Kay Meek Studio Theatre (1700 Mathers Ave, West Vancouver) until May 19th. Visit for tickets and more information.

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