‘Brother Gary’ brings the laughs


Adria Watson

American Monk Paul along with Brothers Larry and Hugo played by Robert Dunn, Michael Simpson and Steve Millard, respectively, rehearse a scene.

“Brother Gary,” the unique play featured at Los Medanos College’s little theater and directed by Jack Nicolaus, touched up on the controversial topic of diversity while also successfully maintaining a pleasantly light and humorous tone.
Bay Area playwright Ramiz Monsif tells the story surrounding the integration of an American in the group of monks of a small church located on the Tuscan Countryside. The American monk, “Brother Gary,” played by Michael Simpson, joined after the church felt they needed more diversity within the staff. A handful of monks, however, seem unhappy with the new addition.
The plot follows one monk in particular, Brother Mauro, played by Nick Gosselin, who was especially upset with Gary’s presence after feeling slighted when the American had taken a bell tolling position that brother Mauro had been vying for after living at the church all his life. Hilarity ensues; copper rain gutters are stolen, sawdust biscuits and sloppy joes are eaten, we see the arrival of more Americans and eventually, new information comes into light, leaving a surprising twist of events in it’s wake that has the audience realizing that not all is as it seems.
Brother Mauro, played by Nick Gosselin, asking for forgiveness during a scene in “Brother gary.”
The actors in the production did a wonderful job. There was never a dull moment on stage where I wasn’t entertained by Brother Mauro’s mounting frustration towards Gary or the Old Yolas retelling the seduction of the late bellringer, Brother Pino.
Curiously, despite the play being called “Brother Gary,” we saw neither hide nor hair of the man himself for the majority of the show.
Throughout the play, Brother Mauro expressed his distaste for Americans often stereotyping them and calling them something along the lines of “stupid, fat, lazy and ignorant.” He also showed a low tolerance for Gary’s actions — writing off his inability to ring the bells on time and his American style dishes as typical for a lazy uncultured American.
Old Yola Who Lives Down the Hill, played by Du’Praiseja Smith.
It was clever on Monsif’s part, how he forces the audience to paint a picture of Gary using only what they could learn from the other Brothers at church.
We end up viewing Brother Gary from the Italian Monks perspective and assume that he is a terrible American who holds no value in the church traditions all without ever meeting Brother Gary himself.
The slight focus on Brother Mauro’s diverse intolerance could perhaps be a parallel to our own intolerance. Mauro never got to know who Brother Gary really was — he instead stubbornly stuck to his stereotypical views. It wasn’t until Brother Gary had spoken to Brother Mauro did the priest realize his assumptions were not all that spot on.
Overall, the play was pleasantly insightful. Even when dealing with some of the more serious topics such as death, murder and diverse intolerance, the show kept the audience grinning ear to ear.
‘Brother Gary’ will have three additional showings on Oct. 21, 22 and 24 at 7 p.m.