“The Brothers Size,” billed as part two of up-and-comer Tarell Alvin McCraney’s three-part “Brother/Sister Plays” about the black experience in the Louisiana bayou, is a more intimate, emotionally resonating offering than its predecessor, the more ethereal “In the Red and Brown Water.”
Magic Theatre opened “Brothers Size” Tuesday just a week after Marin Theatre Company launched, and already extended, “Water.”
Next month, American Conservatory Theater gets the third in the series of linked plays (featuring some of the same characters), “Marcus; or The Secret of Sweet,” underway in a complementary effort being lauded by Bay Area theater lovers.
It’s going to be hard to top “Brothers Size,” a funny, invigorating, heartfelt story of two siblings — the older, straight-laced Ogun (Joshua Elijah Reese), a mechanic, and the younger, troubled Oshoosi (Tobie Windham), unemployed and home from a stint in jail — who, in this 80-minute snapshot of a show, try to come to terms with their lives.
Directed with intelligence and economy by Octavio Solis, the appealing — and yes, hunky — actors are vivid, wonderfully interpreting McCraney’s often theatrical piece, in which stage directions become elements of the dialogue (“Ogun smiles,” “Oshoosi exits,” etc.), adding a sometimes interesting, though not transformative, effect.
Handling the poetry and “add-ons” with finesse, Reese and Windham also keep the guys’ interactions remarkably real, from the show’s humorous start to its intense, moving finish.
The brothers’ lives are shaken up when Elegba (Alex Ubokudom), a friend who spent time “in the pen” with Oshooshi, arrives, not only bringing an operating car — and the promise and consequences of real freedom for Oshoohi — but also triggering tough memories of difficult days.
With little in the way of scenery or props — just a rope, chain and tires — the setting is nonetheless concrete, aided by Sarah Sidman’s evocative lighting design, which perfectly underscores the action and characterizations.
The Brothers Size
Where: Magic Theatre, Building D, Fort Mason Center, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, San Francisco
When: 7 p.m. Tuesdays, 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays; closes Oct. 17
Tickets: $20 to $60
Contact: (415) 441-8822; www.magictheatre.org