Theatre review by Carol Moore reposted with permission from SpotlightonLake.com
The focus of “Brother of All” is a troubled and confused young man/boy, Leonard Street (Josh Eggleston), who tells the audience that the day he became a blood brother was the best day of his life.
When a male doctor who says his name is Dr. Albert Maison (David Pera) enters the room, Leonard greets him happily, positive they’ve sent him to replace the woman doctor who was a friend/colleague of his mother, Wilma Street (Caroline Rau-Geldernick). Even though Dr. Maison frequently cites a police report, Leonard chooses not to talk about the reason he’s in the hospital or the horrific event that sent him there.
Instead, Leonard talks about his childhood, his adored older brother, Jonathan (Jordon Chaddock), and the Cherokee heritage of his blood brother, Wohali/Thomas Joseph (Timothy Thomas Gleason). The boys met and bonded with Wohali when their mother sent them to camp for the summer. A counselor, Mr. Mason, became a father figure to the boys. Their friendship thrived in spite of their mother’s objections to ‘that dirty Indian boy’.
As time passes and they grow up, their mother has plans for them, plans that do not include Wohali. Jonathan becomes a nurse, he gets a job and moves away, leaving Leonard home alone with their mother. When she finds out that Leonard has dropped out of school to work as a mechanic, she ‘arranges’ for him to get sick so she can use him as her test subject in a new study.
“Brother of All” is the kind of layered story that only gradually reveals vital information. While Leonard is re-living his own personal horror story, he can still recount touching and humorous memories with Jonathan and Wohali. The landscape of Leonard’s mind is well represented by the mostly bare stage scattered with odd objects. Although I thought I’d figured it out, in the end everything I thought I knew was wrong.
By the way, if you live in northwest Indiana, you don’t have to travel to see good theater. Our thriving theater community includes many theater professionals who have ‘retired’ for one reason or another.
Billed as CTG’s resident playwright, Jim Henry is also a member playwright at Chicago Dramatists. Another of his plays, “7th Monarch” (produced at CST in 2001) will open Off-Broadway in New York City at Theatre Row's Acorn Theatre later this month. His first play, “The Angels of Lemnos,” won a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work. The play ran for five months in Los Angeles receiving an L.A. Times Critic's Choice, rave reviews from Variety, and a Robby Award for Best New Play.
“Brother of All” which runs through June 9th at CTG’s Chicago Street Theatre in Valparaiso, is northwest Indiana’s play to see this year! Congrats to Directors Traci Brant and Jonni Pera.