Published: 9 February, 2012
by EMILY WIGHT
This new play about class issues in modern British society is laced with political bite.
Ian is a well-to-do lawyer who is all settled – Oxford-educated girlfriend; campaign to be a Liberal Democrat councillor – until the ghosts of his past invade his cushy life in the form of his brother, Barry.
Unlike Ian, Barry is proud of his working-class roots and is upfront about his past addiction which ravaged his family relationships. With his recital of a gritty poem set in Salford and his love of punk music, he charms Ian’s girlfriend Carla while outraging Ian.
What writer and director David Schaal has managed to do extremely well is to create two characters so different they are almost clichés.
And yet their characterisation – as well as brilliant acting by Math Sams (Ian) and Edward Law (Barry) – is acutely real.
Ian is almost a Nick Clegg figure: once having marched against the arms trade, he now believes police kettling is a successful police tactic.
About halfway through, the cat is let out of the bag as to the trouble in the brothers’ relationship.
The problem is, this cat has lots of kittens. And they just keep on coming.
Brotherly Love would have been far more touching if it had ended 15 minutes before it did – not only because the same old arguments bounced back and forth, but also because of Barry’s disappointing and implausible actions which don’t do much to redeem his character.
Apart from the ending, however, Brotherly Love is a humorous, thought-provoking examination of family relationships and class divide.
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