If Joe Orton and Martin McDonough had a love child, it would be Alistair McDowall. He’s the twenty-something British playwright hailed as the next important writer to come out of the U.K. Lucky for us in the colonies, Apollinaire Theatre Company is giving his gritty BRILLIANT ADVENTURES a bang up outing through Jan. 21st. And while you’re there, check out the flashy new spaces Apollinaire has opened up (including a new teen theater) in the Chelsea Theatre Works.
Here’s the skinny. Two brothers can’t live together and it seems they can’t live apart from each other either. The elder brother has always looked out for his fragile, younger sibling—albeit a bit unwisely since he’s a low level drug dealer who attracts unsavory customers to his brother’s flat. Think of the wonderfully funny but harrowing Guy Ritchie caper film, SNATCH, and there you have it.
A really nasty bloke wants in on a device invented by the sweet, geeky brother. He thinks it will make millions but the teenager says no. Brooks Reeves is even more frightening in BRILLIANT ADVENTURES than he was as the sadist in CLOSER. He says there are three ways (he’s got a cockney accent so he says “free”) to get what he wants: One is money which the teen refuses. Two is sex which doesn’t apply in this situation and free is violence. (I turned my head away for the torture bit but I could still hear it.) If it weren’t for the cheeky humor and blissfully bizarre characters, this would not be my cuppa tea. As it is so sardonically deft, I’d gladly have a second cup.
Reeves is superbly cold and creepy. Michael Underhill is perfection as the misguided older brother with Sam Terry and Eric McGowan thoroughly charming as the brainy teen(s). Geoff Van Wyck adds even more laughter as a completely unconvincing wannabe tough. Dev Luthra, who spends most of the play hunkered down out of the way, gets a show stopping monologue at the top of Act II.
The playwright makes things work that you wouldn’t think would, like Luthra’s curious character or the off the wall “invention.” Danielle Fauteux Jaques brilliantly directs the comedy as if it all were completely normal everyday fare—which is what makes it tick on so smashingly, like clockwork.