How often have you heard this dramatic setup? Estranged children are forced to convene after the death of a parent. Wary at first, they spar over old grievances, complain that Mom or Dad loved one of them better, and end up friends.
This is the familiar turf on which playwright David MacIvor built "The Best Brothers." His is a fairly mild version of the scenario — mostly charming and amusing but with that necessary dollop of catharsis. For MacIvor, a Canadian actor and playwright, the piece provided a nice two-hander to perform with a stage partner — something he has done frequently.
Loudmouth Collective is staging "The Best Brothers" with Wade A. Vaughn and David Mann portraying Kyle and Hamilton Best.
Both men are happily at work in their careers — Kyle selling real estate and Hamilton pitching architectural designs — when they get the news of their mother's death.
MacIvor quickly leavens the grief. Ardythe (Bunny) Best died when an obese, intoxicated drag queen fell off a float in a gay pride parade and landed on her.
The uptight Hamilton throws a few lines around that make us believe he's not come to terms with his brother's sexual identity. If Kyle were not gay, Bunny would not have been at the parade, ergo it's Kyle's fault. This resentment doesn't get fully fleshed out; MacIvor lands lightly on the grudges about who loved whom and whether Bunny was at peace with herself.
Vaughn gets the better of the two roles with the emotionally supple Kyle. Vaughn is at ease with a character who is friendly, funny and inviting. Hamilton, weighed down by an unhappy marriage, barks that Kyle is not grieving properly. But it is he, with his bound-up anger and stiff body language, who seems unable to give their mother a proper send-off.
The insertion of Bunny's longtime dog — unseen — gives the boys something to rally around. Director Natalie Novacek keeps us tuned in to the boys' relationship, and the dog becomes more a talisman of mom's memory.
"The Best Brothers" doesn't feel essential, but at this ticket price, it is a worthwhile diversion.