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by on 29 January 2021

Sibling Rivalry


by Matthew Huntington

Short Plays for Short Journeys, Wild Duck Productions, on-line

Review by Eleanor Lewis

In these trying times I feel an overwhelming need firstly to offer a huge vote of thanks to Harry Doyle, Sound Designer for Wild Ducks’ recent series of podcast plays.  I refer specifically to Brothers by Matthew Huntington in which two men are sitting in a wine bar – yes, an actual wine bar! – and if you relax and close your eyes you could be right there, in said wine bar, with a glass of something nice, chatting to other people at the same table!  Frankly in the midst of a global pandemic, I view this as a public service.

Getting back to the play in question, Dan and Simon, the Brothers, meet for a drink and proceed together on a journey of personal discovery over the course of fifteen minutes.  Dan (Luciano Dodero) has been trying to keep up with Simon (Daniel Wain) for most of his life, both are bright and talented but Simon has always been just ahead.  Dan and his wife are now struggling to have a baby, while Simon and his wife are on pregnancy number three.  Both characters are consumed by sibling rivalry.  Dan sees himself as validated only by equalling or surpassing his brother’s achievements

Interestingly both men assume that the women in their lives, when not in the presence of men, spend all their time discussing them.  Their mother will only want to talk about their father, (or the Sainsbury’s one-way system) and Dan’s wife (according to Simon) will almost certainly be grateful to spend a night with Simon if it might result in pregnancy.  However, what seems initially to be just a cringeworthy character trait in both brothers in fact serves to illustrate how little these two understand about much at all, let alone each other, beyond the superficial.  As their conversation continues, writer Matthew Huntington deploys a tightly constructed story arc which pushes Dan and Simon from uneasy rivalry through near hostility and forward into a fragile but good-humoured rapprochement at the conclusion of their meeting.

Luciano Dodero and Daniel Wain did a great job with Dan and Simon respectively.  Daniel Wain as Simon, the brash, confident, slightly irritating and probably older brother (though ages were not specified), and Luciano Dodero as Dan, the overshadowed but still game probably younger sibling.  The unnecessarily firm direction of these two experienced actors however was almost palpable.  A podcast being a subtle medium, the emphasis being placed by both men on precise diction and very clear delivery of lines in what was intended to be a casual conversation between two people who grew up together was at times unnecessarily laboured for this intimate, audio broadcast.  Simon’s diligent sounding of the ‘t’ in “mate” for example, was a little jarring.

That aside, Susan Conte and Fleur de Henrie Pearce have produced an enjoyable and professional set of little plays in Short Plays for Short Journeys.  I’m led to believe there is a second episode of the Brothers and I’m looking forward to it.

I hope it happens in the same wine bar.

Eleanor Lewis, January 2021

Photography by Joe Woodhouse and Daniel Ogulewicz

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