Prepare to be scared out of your wits at the Los Angeles premiere of the riveting, supernatural thriller “The Brothers Paranormal” at East West Players. Prince Gomolvilas’s spine-tingling ghost story is a thrill ride, with unexpected twists and turns, that packs an emotional punch.
It’s the story of two Thai brothers living in a Midwestern town who, seeing an opportunity with the national uptick in Asian ghost sightings, have started a ghost-busting business. Older brother Visarut is Thai born and emigrated as a pre-teen while younger brother Max is American born. They live with their mother, Tasanee, who suffers from schizophrenia, possibly brought on by the trauma of being displaced. Business has been basically non-existent until they get desperate clients, Delia and Felix, an African-American couple who fled New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and are now being haunted by what they think is a Thai woman. So, who better to hunt her down but two Thai brothers?
But the truth is that Max doesn’t really believe that what they do is real. He’s in it for the money while Visarut is a believer. While Delia is the only one who claims to have seen the ghost, Felix has reason to believe that the ghost is actually there for him. As the action takes off, the play delves deeper into the lives of the brothers and explores their family story and most poignantly their mother’s story. It’s full of surprises and spooky stagecraft that had the audience screaming while simultaneously touching the heart. It’s a psychological deep dive into what it means to be displaced, the scars we carry and what we choose to believe.
Jeff Liu’s direction is taut, building into a heart-pounding crescendo while still allowing for quiet, profound moments. There’s a funny, yet beautiful relationship between Max and his mother, Tasanee. Veteran actress Emily Kuroda plays this tortured soul with plucky humor and poetic poignancy. As American born son, Max, David Huynh gives a slow burning performance of a man searching for meaning amidst his grief. Roy Vongtama as sage older brother, Visarut, is compelling in his zen exterior that masks his addiction and trauma.
Jasper Louis is smooth and charming as Felix. His passionate description of Ella Fitzgerald’s grammy winning, impromptu performance of “Mack The Knife” most certainly had every audience member googling it after the show. His love for wife Delia is palpable and the two have terrific chemistry. Tamika Simpkins is a standout as Delia – her infectious laugh alone is worth the ticket price. She’s a complete natural on stage who can express a dozen emotions with a look or a sigh. Simpkins expertly takes the audience with her on a ride of terror that, regardless of whether it’s in her mind or not, we believe her.
The Brothers Paranormal is presented at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 in Little Tokyo. The Brothers Paranormal performs through December 11. East West Players will host a Black Affinity Night performance of The Brothers Paranormal on Friday, December 2.
Tickets may be purchased online at eastwestplayers.org or by calling (213) 625-7000. At time of purchase please mention any wheelchair/accessible seating needs. Student, senior, and group discounts are available.
EWP has implemented numerous COVID-19 safety protocols to ensure that artists and audience members are able to safely enjoy their experience. For more information, please visit eastwestplayers.org