20 February 2012

Brotherly Love at Pentameters

Having discovered Pentameters Theatre at the end of last year and having proved to myself that the journey up north to Hampstead is possible with little effort or danger it was no surprise to find myself back there to see Brotherly Love.

The theatre is probably the smallest that I have even been to, the way up to it from the street is via a cluttered narrow staircase and the entrance is through the mysteriously dark box office.

All this add to the excitement and the experience. Discovering the play starts with discovering the theatre.

Downstairs, in another world, is the Horseshoe pub, that is fiercely current, i.e. it looks and feels like every other gastro pub that you have been to. This is perfect for the pre-theatre drink simply because of its location, otherwise it has little to offer.

Brotherly Love tells the story of two brothers whose common past includes playing in a puck rock / new wave covers band (an excellent excuse to punctuate the evening with some fine tunes and finer words from that period) before they took wildly different tracks.

Public School educated Ian is a barrister looking to move in to politics while Barry dropped-out and led a narcotics fuelled life.

In the middle sits Oxbridge educated Carla, Ian's current girl friend.

The play opens with Carla laying the dinner table ready for Ian and some influential guests only to have Brian arrive and throw various spanners in the works.

Ian arrives soon later and then the sparks start to fly. Ian makes it clear that he does not want to see Brian, much less say anything to him.

Brian tries to explain that his dark past is behind him and he is looking for reconciliation, Carla sides with reconciliation over conflict and is the glue that gets them talking again, albeit not in a very friendly way.

Encouraged by Carla, Brian becomes a regular visitor.

As the brothers talk we learn more about them, their shared past and why their feud started. Some of this is not unexpected, a woman is involved, and some of it comes as a shock to both us watching and to the other brother.

What we at first accepted as "it's complicated" in a Facebook sense soon becomes complicated in a very real sense as all three lives unravel.

The present becomes complicated too as new relationships form and old ones rekindle.

All this happens in a light-hearted and humorous way. There is no malice in anybody's heart and while dark deeds are done these are mistakes rather than machinations.

And they are mistakes that we can forgive in the characters. We watch without taking sides and can enjoy the humour in their behaviour.

Brotherly Love offers no great insights in to the human position, and I do not think that it tries to. What it does do is show a little of the imperfection in all of us while entertaining us in the process. It is a lot of fun.

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