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Brothers - Melbourne Fringe

Daniel O'Kane and Liam O'Kane

Two real life brothers starring as brothers in Kerry Drumm's play Brothers really is a must-see for this year's Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Drumm has written a beautifully scripted play about two estranged brothers who are brought together by their need for support in their own personal time of crisis. The show takes place in two locations: an oncology hospital wing and in a place of memory. It's so refreshing to see a play where the dialogue contains subtly and subtext; handled by two excellent actors who know how to keep it real.

Daniel and Liam O'Kane play the two brothers reunited after living worlds apart. Matt (played by Daniel) has been holding the fort down at home, dealing with the devastating loss of some friends and family, and now battling cancer, solo. Jay (played by Liam) has been living a life of nightclubs, drugs and sex in Ibiza for ten years, now faced the reality of his own mortality. The way in which these two lives re-entwine is where this play begins. The two actors are masters of their craft. They are so inside the text, that it really does feel like you are a watching an actual conversation. The pacing, inflections and intentions are all so natural and serve to bring the text to life in a truely palatable manner.

Direction by Peter Newling, combined with set design by Kerry Drum, is incredibly clever. The studio stage at Gasworks is intimate - making it difficult to constantly flick between the hospital and various flashbacks, whilst keeping it clear what and where we are. This is achieved through the use of a simple couple of chairs and a small tallboy on the left, and a stunningly interesting 'memory wall' on the right, in front of which all of the flashbacks are performed. This is very much worth looking at and studying before the play begins - lest you find yourself distracted by it in the middle of the play once you realise the significance of it. It looks fantastic and it's a very smart way to create an abstract theatrical space. Brava.

Sound design by composer/producer Mark D'Angelo is perfect. The kind of music you hear from Jay's headphones pairs perfectly with his outfit (costume designs by Tony Tartaro), all of which screams "I'm a drugged-up DJ in the party capital of the world". Just looking at their costumes alone you can see the kinds of lives these two men have lived.

This is a really fantastic piece of theatre produced by Little Red Fox Productions. Though the ending is weirdly abrupt, the play as a whole flows beautifully - a combined effort of great writing, directing and acting. This play is selling very fast, so I suggest you book your tickets quick.


Brothers is playing at Gasworks Arts Park until October 15 as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Tickets can be found here

Photos: Nigel Annison

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