Family ties

Sally Cole
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Being actual brothers strengthens roles for Corin McFadden and Will McFadden in The Best Brothers, a new play running at Victoria Playhouse

When Corin McFadden and Will McFadden started rehearsals for The Best Brothers in Victoria, a couple of weeks ago, they were ahead of the game.

That’s because the two actors have a home advantage.

Corin and Will are brothers. And, after growing up and performing in shows together, it’s easy for them to tap into the familiarity they need to play siblings on stage.

“When Corin starts a sentence, I know how it’s going to end and I’m ready with my response,” says Will, who plays Hamilton, an architect in the Daniel MacIvor play running at Victoria Playhouse from today until Sept. 14.

“So it’s really, really easy to get into the true thing that is brothers, which is back and forth, love and a level of familiarity and a built-in forgiveness for shortcomings that you wouldn’t find between friends.

“And, of course, it’s easy to tap into a deep well of sibling rivalry,” says Will.

His brother agrees.

“Knowing him so well and playing with him so often allows us to play off each other, which is always fun,” says Corin.

Having that familiarity makes it easy for them to handle uncomfortable situations, like death, in the play.

The Best Brothers is about what happens in a family when Bunny Best, a mother, dies in a freak accident at Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade, crushed by a drunk drag queen.

Then, as the sons make plans to celebrate their mother, they struggle with delicate questions of love and family like whom did Mom love more and who gets the dog?

“The show is about relationships. Most people have suffered a loss with someone they’ve loved. So there will be some laughter and some healing,” says Corin, who plays Kyle Best, a savvy real estate agent.

There’s also the family dynamic created by a whole cast of characters that are part of the family in the broader social circle that are brought back into the play through references and referrals.

“You’ll get a good sense of who these people were and (which character) they are responding to,” he says.

At Victoria Playhouse, the director says audiences have been responsive to the play, which was a hit at the Stratford Festival where it premiered in 2012.

“It’s an unconditional comedy in that it deals with heavy themes such as death, but, at the same time, it’s very funny,” says Mark Fraser.

For example, there’s a dog character that weighs heavily on the narrative, so there’s talk about ‘poo’ as well as visuals of the brothers cleaning up after their mother’s beloved pet.

“There’s also comedy in the way they remember their own mother, as they step into her shoes and present her,” says Fraser who learned about the play through a friend who was performing the show in Toronto last fall.

So Fraser showed it to the theatre’s artistic programming committee, consisting of Campbell Webster, Pat Stunden Smith and himself, who read the script and liked it immediately.

“The writing is so good. It’s funny and heartfelt and there is real familial love being worked out on the stage,” says Smith, managing director.

Often the giggles come from the way the brothers relate to each other as rivals.

“I look up to him because he’s taller,” laughs Corin.


Sally Cole is an entertainment writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at or by phone at 629-6000, ext. 6054.


At a Glance:

- What: The Best Brothers

- When and Where: Victoria Playhouse, Aug. 29-Sept. 14.

- Tickets: Call 902-658-2025 or go the website,

Organizations: The Best Brothers, The Guardian

Geographic location: Toronto

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Recent comments

  • Clm
    August 31, 2014 - 08:41

    I was at opening night last night and it was a great show, went off without a hitch. The actors were wonderful. Great production. I laughed and I cried! What more could you ask for?