Expansive roles - Page 2

The Brothers Size gets apt Magic, while the play's the thing in Etiquette

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Joshua Elijah reese shines in The Brothers Size
PHOTO BY JENNIFER REILEY

Meanwhile, the headphones, the concentration of your partner, the voice in your ear, the world of the tabletop, the knowledge that you are in a play, watching a play, and that, hell, you are the play — all this makes it surprisingly easy to shrug off any inhibition you might otherwise feel about making a "scene" in a restaurant.

The scene is your own in that you inhabit it, but then it is also dictated to you, bound by certain constraints. This tension is part of the delight generated by the piece. The audience-member-as-performer accepts, just as any actor does, the work of the playwright and instructions of the director. Within that there is room for individual choice and interpretation, but any action or decision comes circumscribed by the larger form. Day-to-day we all play our parts, of course, more or less self-consciously. But I never realized what a relief it might be to have your everyday encounters literally scripted for you. I suddenly thought I knew why pirates have parrots on their shoulders. I'd naively assumed it was the man feeding lines to the bird.

While Etiquette's parts are gender-specific, the participants might be of any sex, no matter the role. In fact, the idea of liberation from ascribed roles comes woven, in subtly layered fashion, into the very narratives unfolding and overlapping across the table. If the foundation of identity relies on the cultural and social forms we inherit, how liberating it is, even momentarily, to sit down in public and embrace play in all its forms.

THE BROTHERS SIZE

Through Oct. 17, $20–$60

Magic Theatre

Fort Mason Center, Bldg D, SF

(415) 441-8822

www.magictheatre.org

ETIQUETTE

Through Oct. 3, $8–$10

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2787

www.ybca.org

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