It’s an almost universal reason why audiences should come out to Shadow Theatre‘s first show of the season, The Best Brothers: “If you have a sibling or you love dogs, you’re set,” according to the company’s Artistic Director and director of the show, John Hudson.
On the surface, The Best Brothers by Daniel MacIvor tackles the situation Kyle and Hamilton Best find themselves in when their mother dies in a “sudden and freak accident… [It explores] how that affects their relationship, and how it moves them closer together,” says John. “And at the end, they’re left with what to do with the dog.” But at the end of the day, John says people will leave thinking about, “our need for unconditional love. We need that as human beings. That’s essential.”
Garett Ross and Andrew MacDonald Smith star as the brothers Hamilton and Kyle respectively, and both each take turns portraying their deceased mother, Bunny. John says the two brothers couldn’t be more different from one another. “Bunny says it pretty well – Hamilton is like the tide and Kyle kind of spurts. Hamilton is good in crowds, and Kyle is kind of inside out – he’s totally accepting fun and gregarious and light. We were talking that Kyle is kind of air and Hamilton is earth. But Hamilton is also going through more than the mother’s death. There are other things at play in his life that are going on that add a lot more weight. He’s at a really pivotal point in his life, beyond even where his mother’s death comes in. It’s an interesting and weighty journey for him through all of that.”
The Best Brothers opens Shadow Theatre’s 2015/2016 season, which John says is all about how we fit into the world. “We catch Hamilton at a place where he’s really at a loss in his life and he’s looking for how he fits in, whereas Kyle fits in really beautifully. He knows his place and he’s exactly where he should be, so Hamilton is kind of questing for that.”
While The Best Brothers might sound serious, and definitely tackles the serious subject of grief and preparing to say a final goodbye to a loved one, John says the play is also hilarious. “One of the really great things about this play is it takes a really serious situation and mines the humour in it. These guys kill me in rehearsal – the eulogy scene at the funeral is so funny, it’s brilliant. Part of that is the chemistry the two actors have because they’ve known each other for so long and are such good friends, so they have a real natural chemistry together. Daniel MacIvor’s writing is so sharp and it’s so fun to mine all the little ‘Easter eggs’ he’s got hidden throughout the play – I keep going, ‘Oh! of course, that’s exactly where it links back to!’ ”
“A lot of great comedies are based around really tough situations… It’s two characters who are vastly different. That’s what brings out the humour. Just the misunderstanding and one will start obsessing about one thing, which starts to drive the other crazy… Kyle is trying to write the obituary and he’s going on – ‘Should it be ‘beloved’ or ‘loving’? Beloved would be us to her, but loving will be of her to us, well, all things really…’ and he’s just going on and on. Hamilton’s like, ‘No… no!’ It’s very funny.”