The Public Theater's 'The Brother/Sister Plays' delivers on script, direction and talent

Misani | 4/12/2011, 4:35 p.m.

In addition, the director's use of having the actors drive the play as narrators is absolutely fierce. Through their narration, they set up their entrances, exits and dialogue, as well as an serving as effective change of scene mechanism which, in addition to adding humor and wit, showed the highly skilled talent of the actors, who effortlessly switched back and forth in their dual roles.

Commenting on these aspects--the talent, the acting and the story line--Colimon shared: "I especially loved Brian Tyree Henry [Oshoosi] and Marc Damon Johnson [Ogun]. It isn't easy to go from character to narrator in any instance, but Brian and Marc stayed true to each beat seamlessly. Brian's work was organic, electric, complicated, yet simple. His eyes were haunting...the hunger his character had for self-definition and acceptance was poignant. I could see the little boy who didn't get the maternal love needed to be a full-fledged man.

His brother, Ogun, could never be the mother he needed...now that I think about it...I could feel his yearning for that love, which explained the character's nightmares. His older brother was too much of a guy to hug him the way his mother would have" (or the way Elegba did in prison).

Colimon continued: "And Marc Johnson...well, I have seen his work before and I can't think of anyone better to play the conflicted/protective epic elder son. His interpretation of Ogun made me think of the classic characters 'Lear' and 'Hamlet.' He brought dignity and an aristocratic flair to a man who was stuck in a working man's world...he understood the concept of a god [Ogun] in a mortal coil. Their relationship as sibling/parent was heart-wrenching: Ogun in relation to Oshoosi - faint sibling rivalry cloaking unconditional love and protectiveness; Oshoosi in relation to Ogun - younger sibling contrariness and rebellion cloaking a child's desperate need for parent love and protection."

I totally agree with Colimon. In addition, Anthony Holland's charming innocence was alluring. As Elegba, he was the embodiment of the mythological con artist, smooth, yet cunning, restrained, yet warm and loving toward Oshoosi. And he was human!

Taking over the lead in the second play, "Marcus: Or the Secret of Sweet," Holland in the role of a confused youth in search of his sexuality and family history is superb. His character is a teenager who has the gift of dreams and is the one who is given the connection to Oshoosi of an earlier decade. He is also the one in search of a dark secret between his father, Elegba and Oshoosi. Holland is innocent and honest in his choices for this role, which he aces. He is a strong and convincing actor, and someone to watch. It is always a pleasure to watch him work, as it has been over the years to see the outstanding actor Marc Damon Johnson. (Both Jaki Brown Karman and I greatly admired him during the time we were casting.)

The other cast members of "Marcus: Or the Secret of Sweet" are Shua (Sterling K. Brown), Shun/Aunt Elegua (Kimberly Hebert Gregory), Terrell/Oshoosi Size (Brian Tyree Henry), Marcus (Andre Holland), Ogun Size (Marc Damon Johnson), O Li Roon (Sean Allan Krill), Shaunta lyun (Nikiya Mathis), Osha (Kianne Muschett) and Oba (Heather Alicia Simms), Marcus'mom.