By Alistair McDowall
Apollinaire Theatre - Chelsea Theatre Works. Dec 28th-Jan 21st
If you don't happen to need much convincing, let me start by saying that you should go see Brilliant Adventures. I've never done this before—issue a verdict right off the bat—and after the show I told my theatregoing partner/husband who was unable to attend, "I think you should come with me to see it again." While I'm not generally disappointed with Boston-area theatre productions, that's another first. … As usual, the performances are impeccable. Although Rob is a bit of a ruffian, his love for his brother comes across clearly, and Underhill (School for Scandal, Sense and Sensibility, Back the Night) has found the perfect balance among the competing forces of anger, resentment, earnestness, and loyalty to make you empathize with Rob. Recent Emerson grad Terry (The Birds and the Bees, Lizzie Stranton, Midnight Zoo) shows us Luke's weaknesses and strengths, sometimes in the same moment: He's nervous and uncomfortable, constantly adjusting his clothes, but he bravely stands up to nefarious Ben and refuses to compromise his morals (giving his time machine to Ben in exchange for a house and a lot of money, for example). And Ben is not someone you could easily stand up to—Ben is downright terrifying, as IRNE Award-winner Reeves (Hamlet, Midsummer, Stupid Fucking Bird) employs a stoic intimidation reminiscent of "Breaking Bad"'s Mike Ehrmantraut. (Only, unlike Mike, Ben is plain evil.)
Sarah Cantal Parro, TalkinBroadway.com
Brooks Reeves is even more frightening in BRILLIANT ADVENTURES than he was as the sadist in CLOSER. He says there are three ways (he’s got a cockney accent so he says “free”) to get what he wants: One is money which the teen refuses. Two is sex which doesn’t apply in this situation and free is violence. (I turned my head away for the torture bit but I could still hear it.) If it weren’t for the cheeky humor and blissfully bizarre characters, this would not be my cuppa tea. As it is so sardonically deft, I’d gladly have a second cup. Reeves is superbly cold and creepy.
Beverly Creasey, Boston Arts Review
The always sturdy Brooks Reeves plays that London drug dealer, called Ben, with icy menace. The only one in this group who hasn’t internalized the sense of agitated desperation that seems to blow on the breeze around here, Ben views the widespread breakdown of opportunity and hope as something that’s good for business. If he’s meant to be a personification of contemporary capitalism — and some angry speech-making in the play’s latter half suggests that he is — McDowall draws his examples of exploitation with broad strokes.
Jeremey Goodwin, WBUR Artery
Brooks Reeves does a powerful job of limning Ben’s psychopathy, going well beyond fight director Danielle Rosvally’s well-choreographed eruptions of graphic violence. He shows us that the crafty Ben has learned how to simulate empathy, to observe and then test people with detached charm as he tries to determine their price, only bursting into anger when they refuse to be bought. Like any psychopath, he insists his hand was forced.
Ian Thal, The Arts Fuse