Arts & Theater

Theater review: Joke wears thin in B Street’s ‘Best Brothers’

Will Springhorn Jr., left, and Christian Martin are the cast of “The Best Brothers.”
Will Springhorn Jr., left, and Christian Martin are the cast of “The Best Brothers.” Courtesy of B Street Theatre

B Street Theatre warns you up front that “The Best Brothers” falls in line with the type of comedy their audiences really love.

Two brothers, mildly estranged, come together after their mother’s death to settle her affairs. Some old resentments crop up, a version of the funny running gag by the Smothers Brothers – “mom always liked you best.”

Here it’s the thin basis for the two-man comedy, which opened over the weekend. The play, by Canadian writer Daniel MacIvor, resolves the brothers’ troubles amiably enough that you’d be hard pressed to say just what the problems actually were in the first place.

The Best brothers are naturally an ill-matched pair. Christian Martin’s older, smaller and tightly wound architect, Hamilton, is the stiff straight man to his brother, Kyle, a goofy and larger real estate agent (Will Springhorn Jr.).

The play’s only joke is Kyle’s ongoing inappropriateness. He wants to stick an advertisement for his new website into their mother’s obituary and make “fancy sandwiches” for her viewing. The beef between the brothers is that their mom, “Bunny” Best, loved Hamilton more but loved Kyle “harder,” lavishing her attention on the younger son because he needed it.

Their mother died while attending a “Gay Days” parade, ostensibly looking for a mate for Kyle. A 400-pound Filipino cross-dresser fell off a float and crushed her. It’s not clear if the joke is supposed to be funny in parts – 400 pounds; Filipino; cross-dresser; mother dying – or if it works when taken all together. You can decide.

The stakes are never compelling and the two brother’s first-world “problems” so trivial – Hamilton’s marriage is dull; Kyle’s a single gay man – that the audience keeps waiting for something compelling to happen. Nothing ever does. There’s just very little to care about as we watch the brothers eventually work things out, after a few chuckles followed by a couple of almost tender moments.

Director Buck Busfield efficiently paces the numerous short scenes, finding what he can in MacIvor’s sketchlike script. Still, there’s an overall brusqueness to the production.

But wait, there are puppies! Well, dogs – and who doesn’t love dogs? Bunny had an Italian greyhound named Enzo, and in the end he brings the brothers together. It’s that kind of play.

Marcus Crowder: 916-321-1120, @marcuscrowder

The Best Brothers

What: Daniel MacIvor’s two-man comedy with Christian Martin and Will Springhorn Jr. Buck Busfield directs.

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thurdays-Fridays; 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays through Sept. 13

Where: B Street Theatre Mainstage Stage, 2711 B St., Sacramento

Cost: $23-$35, $5 student rush

Information: (916) 443-5300, www.bstreettheatre.org

Time: 75 minutes, no intermission

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