The Older Brothers' Almanac

Wed 2nd – Mon 28th August 2017

reviews

Simona Ivicic

at 12:44 on 15th Aug 2017

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This two-man show guides the audience through the playful, comedic, at times violent, but ultimately, caring relationship of two brothers. It is endearing and nostalgic to watch and gains many laughs as the audience are able to sit back and enjoy this light-hearted comedy. The brothers are total opposites. The older is the funny, cool guy, that smokes, drinks and has a girlfriend; whilst the younger is dweeby, innocent and the kind of stereotypical uncool that plays Dungeons and Dragons and live action role play. It is this dynamic between the two, along with a cheeky fart joke here and there, that makes this play so funny and so relatable to watch.

The play was easy to enjoy and the humour was the type to just put a smile on your face. The jokes seemed a bit obvious and the enactment of the stereotypical masculine brotherly relationship was nothing revolutionary. With this play, you get exactly what you expect - a good laugh and an hour of light-hearted fun. It is the fundamental familiarity of it all that is so appealing to the audience - with the squabbling and bickering that all siblings know far too well, along with the teenage struggles of girls, alcohol and how to attain both.

It is shown that the older brother is the hero and the villain. However, the violence, rough play, and teasing lend the play a dark overtone that perhaps is uncomfortable, and is at times unsettling to watch. The younger brother seems naïve, vulnerable and desperate for his older brother's approval and attention. Being nudged on to smoke, drink and flirt with girls, he succumbs to his brother's will and is at times taken advantage of. As an audience member this leaves you wondering whether this behaviour is actually redeemable and if at all acceptable. The play ends on a serious note that suggests that this playful emotional and physical abuse is better than solitude.

The construct of the play allows for quick snapshots into the teenager's lives, as they alternate between directly addressing the audience and describing the teenage logic behind their loyalty and responsibility for one another and showcasing a series of events that test this loyalty. The music and lighting work effortlessly together to present these fast paced transitions and, although fragmented, the moments are easy to watch and glide into one another. The performance was only slightly compromised by the fact that these were two very obviously older men acting the role of teenagers, however, the acting and script itself was superb as they captured the real essence of teenage boys.

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Clarissa Mayhew

at 13:42 on 15th Aug 2017

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“It is the older brother’s duty to guide the younger to become a man - ‘cause who knows more about being a man than a 17 year old boy?”. Thieriot Productions and Something for the Weekend bring to us a 50 minute exploration of the dynamics of teenage brotherhood New York style.

It all started well: my fellow reviewer and I were presented with a free Coors light as we entered as a result of our (fairly doubtful) claim to be sisters (it’s show policy to award drink to siblings who see the show together - quickly, find a lookalike!). As the show began we were told that the worst thing in life is solitude - a statement in which we were asked to see an argument in favour of brotherhood. The rest of show, however, proved anything but as we watched older brother (Richard Thieriot - also writer) bully, manipulate and steal from younger brother (Zach Evenson) in a series of events that seemed rather more horrible than heartwarming, though the audience chuckled away throughout.

The premise surrounded a book, the older brothers’ almanac: a guide for older brothers on how to control, coerce and corrupt younger brothers everywhere - or so it was advertised. References to Cain and Able, King Edward and King George and a pretty incomprehensible Edinburgh shout out involving mince pie and a quickie suggested a universal narrative of brotherhood.Yet in fact the guide articulated a particularly American form of brother torture with methods from forced Texas Chainsaw Massacre watching to the crudely bleak ‘fart cup’. It seemed as though constructed from a montage of scenes from 80s teen movies complete with all the stereotypical accessories from coloured solo cups to plaid shirts and metallic memorabilia as well as the standard plots devices of an illicit rager and hang-outs down the quarry. The claim to be equally applicable to sisterhood I thought was a far stretch though I certainly learnt valuable tricks - like how to give a dead leg (chop em just above the thigh and do something cool later to apologise).

Evenson and Thieriot gave impressively convincing performances as teenage boys, despite their comparatively august ages. Evenson especially was great as the younger nerdy brother, cringing in the passenger seat as his older brother embarrassingly cat called girls in the street on his behalf. Resourceful use of coat stands dressed in hoodies filled out the slim cast to represent a host of other figures along the brothers encounters with ‘bacon bits Betty’ (a messy wig on a pole)

Overall the show was amusing and smirk-worthy, if a little obvious, and had some classic quips. Book tickets for a giggle and a smile but please don’t try these tips at home!

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Comments

Peter Peterson; 17th Aug 2017; 20:48:54

Cain and Able? Part of me thinks maybe his name was Abel. Seems a fairly simple thing to verify before publishing a review. Pity a Ms. Meyhew was not able to take a moment and do that. The Bible (or is it Buybull?) isn’t all that obscure a source. Perhaps ‘twas a blub penned out in a bit of haste.

Furthermore, I do not altogether grasp how sending two young ladies of virtually identical demographics lends your publication all that much credibility. Would it not, in the interest of attempted objectivity, have made more sense to send a student reviewer to this show along with someone, male or female, who occupies a contrasting space upon the life experience continuum? Merely a suggestion. I saw this play. And was moved to tears. Solidly sits amongst the top two or three most profound 2017 Fringe endeavors I have witnessed. It was a genuine privilege. Then again, I am not a young lady in her mid-20s. I'm simply penning this to nudge back a bit against what I perceive as two similarly limited perspectives, to raise a voice for those who were actually somewhat impacted by this poignant, well-rounded piece of art. I consider this play a true hidden gem. I, admittedly, am only one. But, then again, so are your two reviewers.

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