MAN'S BEST FRIEND,
HIS DOG OR HIS MOTHER?
In Daniel MacIvor's latest two hander there is an uneasy tension between the love of a deceased mother and the love of a loyal canine companion. Inspired by his relationship with his own dog, an Italian Greyhound named Buddy, The Best Brothers, currently running at Tarragon Theatre, is a fast paced, hilarious depiction of the familial induced emotional gaps felt by a gay real estate agent and his very straight architect sibling. Set in Toronto's Church Street village the play offers up a smorgasbord of topical delight ranging from the names of local flowers shops to unfortunate gay pride accidents at the corner of Parliament and Wellesley. How a Pride float got that far off the parade route one might wonder, but perhaps I got the intersection wrong. Nevertheless, the intersections between poignancy, comedy, gay, straight, maternal and canine love are brilliant, touching and beautifully performed - yet tend to stray from the central narrative course at times.
Coming in at eighty minutes the play wobbles a little in the third quarter as it succumbs to some brief comic flights of fancy that take the nostalgia of boyhood stories to a slightly awkward and bewildering extreme. But there is a very funny childhood Lego story that acts as a powerful metaphor to post-modern predictability and packaged commodification.
The extreme comedy of a eulogy, shared by the brothers, possesses some fine comic moments yet lapses into a kind of physical comedic interaction that doesn't quite gel all the way through. But ultimately the laughs and the poignant punctuating moments will warm the heart of anyone familiar with the shops and thoroughfares comprising one of North America's largest queer communities. And there are very convincing moments of overlapping repartee between the brothers that reveal the playwright's uncanny knack for tapping into quirky conversational moments that expose the human condition as a universal commingling of laughter and heartache.
The canine narrative has prompted Tarragon to set up dog walking for pooch lovers on two nights during the run (Sept 27th evening, Sept 29th matinee). This is a very dog friendly production graced by a powerful, layered script that reveals the intricate ways in which straight, reserved masculinity, and a particular form of flamboyant, mannered 'gayness' can intersect through the presence of a very willful independent woman. Mother Bunny sees the strength of out queerness and the fragility of certain forms of strict heterocentric reserve, and in her absence her sons reveal intersections between the two with great insight and immense entertainment value.
BEST BROTHERS RUNS AT TARRAGON THEATRE UNTIL OCTOBER 27TH