Brotherly Love - Free

Barry and Ian are two estranged brothers in their late middle-age. Despite roughly the same upbringing, they couldn’t be more different. Ian is a successful barrister, Barry is wild and crazy. Ian is in a seemingly-committed relationship, Barry is wild and crazy. Ian is embarrassed by his working-class roots, Barry is wild and crazy. This level of careful characterisation is pretty much typical of the quality of the rest of the show.The play is billed as dealing with the complex relationship between the brothers but comes off like badly written A-level drama. The situations the characters find themselves in are awkward and unrealistic (one particular low-light being seduction over a game of online poker) and, just when you think you understand a character, some wildly unlikely revelation flies in to turn things on their head. And if you think that packing an entire weeks’ worth of Eastenders-style angst into an hour-long show would make it compelling, you’d be wrong.The cast don’t help the material either. All of them are professional actors so it seems bizarre that neither of the male leads can really act. Why a moderately successful character actor like David Schaal (you may recognize him from recurring roles in The Inbetweeners or The Office) is stomping around a scratch-built stage above a pub is a mystery. My only guess is that he’s attempting to break out of his vulgar Cockney type-casting by showing he can play a different sort of character. Sadly it doesn’t work because he can’t. Jan Hirst as Carla tries to make the best of her role but, as a foil to the brothers, there’s very little she can do.Right or wrong, Brotherly Love feels like a half-baked effort. It does perform the worthy role of giving people somewhere to shelter from the rain but that’s about all it accomplishes. Not worth the price of the ticket.

Reviews by Tom King

Summerhall

A Fortunate Man

★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

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★★★
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4

Phill Jupitus: Sassy Knack

★★★★
Traverse Theatre

Nigel Slater’s Toast

★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Famous Puppet Death Scenes

★★★★
Assembly George Square Gardens

Jess Robinson: No Filter

★★★★

The Blurb

Sibling rivalry isn’t just for kids. For Barry and Ian it’s festered for decades. Are the grievances too huge to settle? A black comedy starring David Schaal (Jay's dad from The Inbetweeners), Jan Hirst and Richard Rycroft.