Brotherhood: A Hip Hopera is a play told in rhyme, conceived and performed by Sébastien Heins about two superstar brothers who make it big in rap. They roll in cash and booze and drugs. The performance is high energy and features a compelling narrative, but it feels contrived at times and could be tightened in places.
The play tells of twin brothers who bust out rhymes and the play opens to them playing a concert in Calgary. They spar and rhyme, but mostly there is too much emotional current running between them. They fight, and one brother threatens to go solo. The opening winds up reading heavy, even though they open with a song about having a threesome.
The story fast forwards and rewinds and Hein’s movement corresponds to this along with Miquelon Rodriguez’s sound design. We learn about how the boys grew up, what music they listened to and how they got into the business. Then the story turns tragic, and we follow Elliot, the older twin brother on his journey in life without his brother. We watch Elliot go to jail and we watch him grow from his life in the business.
Heins switches from character to character, physically embodying each, while maintaining a steady rhythm in his movement. He moves around the stage with energy and charisma. The constant playing with time is expressed in his body. Heins can sing, but the rhymes written in Brotherhood aren’t quite as punchy as they could be. Jacynthe Lalonde’s lighting design is a nice touch, if gives the superstar feel of the show. The charm of the show also lies in Heins’ movement and choreography. The narrative of the story is a bit choppy in the end.
Brotherhood: A Hip Hopera is a high energy, engaging piece of theatre and the incorporation of hip hop and rap in a solo performance makes it a unique theatrical experience.
Brotherhood: A Hip Hopera is presented by b current theatre and is part of the High Performance Rodeo. More information is available online.
Photo Credit: Dakota Arsenault