In Play Reviews

Max (Samson Syharath) needs to pay the rent, and with no prospects in sight, he starts an Asian ghostbuster business with his brother Visarut (Lidet Viravong). “I’ll do the talking,” he informs Visarut.

Samson Syharath and Lidet Viravong in The Brothers Paranormal. Owen Carey photo.

Felix (Jasper Howard) and Delia (Andrea White) have a ghost that needs busting. It’s an Asian ghost. Felix has never seen it, but Delia is completely off the rails about it. So, after much back and forth with the new Asian ghostbusters, they hire Max and his brother to get rid of the unfriendly spirit Jai (Melissa L. Magana).

And thus, Prince Gomolvilas‘s supernatural drama The Brothers Paranormal comes to the CoHo Productions stage.

This is a story about Asian and African American displacement. Max and his family came from Thailand when Max was very small. His brother remembers Thailand; their mother Tasanee (Elaine Low) wishes she’d never left her country. Felix and Delia moved to the Midwest after they lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. They, too, miss the place they still consider home. But for both families, there is no going back.

Andrea White and Jasper Howard in The Brothers Paranormal. Owen Carey photo.

Displaced or not, there is still that damnable ghost to deal with. Through this journey of discovery, the audience is treated to many revelations. What the characters learn challenges them to evaluate their beliefs about sanity and superstition to figure out what’s really going on.

“I’ve always been interested in the tension between what is real and what is not. Not only in terms of the laws of the physical universe but also through the world as we know it: how we perceive things and how other people perceive us,” says the playwright. “All of my research explores the play’s disparate themes: the trauma of displacement (from one’s country of origin, from post-Katrina New Orleans, from the corporeal world); the high incidence of mental health issues among Asian immigrants; and the different ways in which people cope with incredible loss.” And yet, this play finds time for jabs of incredible humor!

Elaine Low in The Brothers Paranormal. Photo by Owen Carey.

With The Brothers Paranormal, Prince Gomolvilas enjoys a “rolling premiere”. Four theatres currently are producing his play, which he began writing in 2011. Directed by Catherine Ming T’ien Duffly, the play is produced in collaboration with MediaRites/Theatre Diaspora by Dmae Roberts and Samson Syharath.

The production team includes Joe Rogers, stage manager; Kyra Sanford, scenic design; Wanda Walden, costume design; Miranda Hardy, lighting design; Ryan Gamblin, sound design; Lara Klingeman, technical director; and Kristen Mun, movement consultant. Original music is by Joe Kye.

The Brothers Paranormal runs through November 16 at CoHo Theatre.

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