Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Brother Number gets a rave review!
Brother Number is a comedy set in the world of Home Affairs. Doesn't sound like much on paper, but, oh boy - in execution it is a brilliant surrealist allegory set in an epic story world. Rob van Vuuren and James Cairns play Stan and Harvey, two brothers who were kidnapped and sent to work in the bowels of the Department of Home Affairs.
For 16 years, they have been sitting in a little windowless room making ID books. They are the only two people in the world who know how to knock up those nifty green documents. When an explosion blows their tiny world wide open, Stan and Harvey must try and find their way out of the labyrinthine Department of Home Affairs. It's hard to convey the immense scope of the plot without giving away essential details.
The play addresses the nature of freedom and identity framed in rich allegory. The story is thoroughly absorbing with nuanced characterisation, limber dialogue and intricate narrative arches. All the characters are wreathed in archetypal familiarity a la Vladimir Propp. Brother Number moves like a Grimm fairytale, jocular on the surface but undercut by a sinister edge. if the story was ever to be adapted for the big screen, only Terry Gilliam would be able to negotiate its delicate balance between light and dark.
The performances are uniformly excellent. Van Vuuren and Cairns totally inhabit the host of characters populating the play. They manage the disparate accents and mannerisms with verve. They have excellent chemistry and their alacrity smacks of intense rehearsal. The occasionally wordy script is enlivened by their superb physical theatre and facial gurning.
Brother Number is throughly satisfying, both emotionally and intellectually.