Friday, November 19, 2010

Brotherly love, etc.


Robert Kropf (left) and Gabriel Kuttner in "On an Average Day." (Chris Burke)

Take in a play about a family conflict, and later continue the drama at a restaurant run by two siblings


As the holidays approach, it’s time to start thinking about one of the more traditional annual pastimes: fighting with your family. Compared to the relationships on display in “On an Average Day,’’ John Kolvenbach’s theatrical descent into the heart of darkness that can make up the relationships between brothers and fathers, your squabbles will seem like playground arguments over the swings.

The story, a two-man performance starring Robert Kropf and Gabriel Kuttner, is about estranged brothers reunited in the home where their father abandoned them years before. The younger brother, accused of an act of terrible violence, is unraveling. The older brother, too, although seemingly in control, has got problems of his own bubbling. The results, says Kuttner, are darkly comedic, moving, and poetic.

Any thematic comparison to “True West’’ by Sam Shepard? “I can see some similarities. It’s set in a kitchen, it’s about two brothers,’’ Kuttner says. “The resolution is almost Milleresque; it reminds me of ‘Death of a Salesman’ in terms of fathers and sons and brothers.’’

“I think a lot of people we’ve found laugh a lot in the beginning, but we have some people moved to tears in the end,’’ he explains. “Hopefully one leaves feeling how important relationships are and that your family is the most important thing and needs nourishment and love and attention. I think people will probably go home and call their dads and say they love them.’’

“On an Average Day’’ runs through Saturday at the Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Theatre, 539 Tremont St., Boston. 617-426-5000.


The set for “On an Average Day’’ is a kitchen littered with detritus and beer cans. Around the corner at the restaurant Sibling Rivalry, there is a filial drama of sorts playing out in a somewhat more refined kitchen setting. In fact when you’re seated at the kitchen-side chef’s bar it might seem like you are watching a theatrical performance. The menu, divided into two halves, each one written by one of the two brother chefs Bob and David Kinkead, uses a single ingredient as a jumping off point — pasta, cheese, curry, cilantro, or poultry for example — from which either chef designs a dish. Chef Bob’s ancho chili steak tartar with cheese pupusas, pickled cabbage, green salsa, avocado and cilantro was one stand out on a recent visit.

You don’t have to take sides in the culinary argument though. “We recommend you mix and match,’’ says manager Alex Quayle. “We have à la carte, and three-course prix fixe on both sides. The menu is not focused on one ideal or one identity, so you can have a chance to come and find the items that speak to you the best.’’ That sounds like compromise; an essential ingredient in any brotherly relationship.

Sibling Rivalry, 525 Tremont St., Boston. 617-338-5338.

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