VENUE: Underbelly Med Quad, until August 28
By CAT TIMONEY
BROTHERS proves an important piece of theatre tackling the critical issue of male mental health through clever writing and impeccable acting.
Following a non-linear structure, a tight-knit group of university friends and housemates recall the events leading up to a tragic incident, reflecting on their relationships and actions towards a friend who has suffered at the hands of his own mental health.
Following the classic narrative of twenty-something young men at University, we see the group laugh, joke and party together supporting one another through hard times and important life issues.
Foreshadowing throughout, Jack, the glue of the group played by David Ley, hints at an inner mental struggle as he frequently uses ‘stomach trouble’ as an out to escape certain group situations.
The hinting was not subtle however, and it was clear that some of the others were aware of his difficulties, but due to the stigma and ‘man up’ expectations of society, tragically his issues are never unearthed or talked about.
The group bounce off one another, giving a genuine and believable portrayal of friendship, as well as strong individual depictions of emotional baggage. Beautifully written, the dialogue flows smoothly from character to character, with the perfect balance of jovial banter alongside the exploration of deeper issues such as sexuality, loneliness and grief.
Music and movement, used impeccably, work to convey emotion with a compelling dance scene representing social anxiety. The use of body language to represent group status was particularly notable between Kay and Gavin (played by Joe Kent-Walters and Shay Kennedy) as Kay’s quivering quietness juxtaposed with Gavin’s present and confident posture helped add depth to each interaction.
The performance was structurally sound with lighting fades symbolising a change from past to present while Michael Ahomka-Lindsay, playing Fabien, narrates with strong stage presence allowing the piece to flow with ease between time frames.
Working with the mental health charities CALM and Mind, Brothers opens up an extremely interesting dialogue, emphasising the need for the removal of stigma surrounding male mental health. Sexuality is also explored with sensitivity as Jack reacts to Tommy (played by Zac- Harvey-Wright) coming out as bi-sexual with warmth and acceptance.
This beautiful and hard-hitting drama is the perfect show for those who have come to the Fringe seeking a thought provoking, socially relevant, moving performance.