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The Brothers Paranormal
a play by Prince Gomolvilas
Two Thai-American brothers launch a ghost-hunting business in order to capitalize on the nationwide increase in sightings of "Asian-looking ghosts." When the siblings investigate the home of an African-American couple who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina and who are antagonized by one very terrifying spirit, everyone’s notions of reality, fantasy, and sanity clash against the shocking truth.
Acclaim for the New York City Production
"Prince Gomolvilas's clever, multilayered play is gratifyingly subtle in its inquiry into migration—the pain of crossing over for the living and the dead alike. Jeff Liu's direction shifts deftly among registers: comedy, melancholy, suspense, and several genuine scares, achieved with the help of some smart lo-fi effects (designed in part by Steve Cuiffo) but especially through the performances."
One of the Top Ten Plays of the Year! "Masterfully written. Exquisite performances."
Acclaim for the Saint Paul Production
"Funny, haunting, and brilliant! The Brothers Paranormal stands among the most brilliantly sculpted works I've encountered on a Twin Cities stage within the past few years. Directed by Penumbra founder Lou Bellamy, it features six actors creating vivid and memorable characters. Thanks in great part to Gomolvilas's astounding craftsmanship, it's a production that deftly combines comedy with spine-tingling suspense and imaginative ways of conveying lessons about loss, grief, and how we are each haunted."
"A new must-see thriller! Loaded with heart and even more heartbreak. The most successful comedies use humor to prime the audience for some serious, affirming messages. Gomolvilas' innovation is using the supernatural to make affecting but totally unexpected points about loss, displacement, mental illness, and family."
"A story that keeps twisting and turning all the way to the end! Ambitiously encompassing topics including climate change and economic inequality, The Brothers Paranormal takes on a lot—but then, so do many families such as these. The show largely succeeds, thanks to a well-crafted, often amusing script, and to strong performances that keep these characters grounded even when they’re climbing the walls."
"It's genuinely scary in parts! On the night we saw it, after a scene that made most of us jump in our seats, two women near the front stood up and ran out. It's brilliantly written—spooky, touching, illuminating, funny, sad, and sweet. Also serious and insightful about things like the immigrant experience and mental illness. The Brothers Paranormal includes some big surprises that deserve to be experienced in the theater, in the moment."
"At turns horrifying and moving, profound and endearing! The Brothers Paranormal doesn't cut any corners in delivering a thrilling and exciting meditation on the meaning of death and whether people can come back from beyond the grave (and why). The play pushes the outermost boundaries of what we expect in horror theater, with moments easily rivaling the greatest Asian ghost-story films. It fully vindicates a growth in the genre, opening up tantalizing possibilities of what's possible onstage with a resourceful troupe."
One of the Top Ten Plays of the Year! "In a lifetime of theatergoing, I can count on two hands the genuinely scary stage experiences I've had. Theater Mu and Penumbra's creepy take on cultural dislocation is one of 'em."
One of the Best of the Year!
Acclaim for the Indianapolis Production
"The Brothers Paranormal is the perfect concoction to whet your taste buds for ghosts and goblins at Halloween, and at the same time it explores serious issues in a story that is often tinged with gentle humor. You come away feeling touched by its humanity."
Acclaim for the Portland Production
"Creepy and poignant! With captivating characters and fantastically scary supernatural effects, the play grips you like a great horror film, but it succeeds because it cares about both the earthly and the unearthly—the anguish of the living and the dead. The Brothers Paranormal is a multifaceted collage of moods and genres."
"Equal parts horror, comedy, and drama! Gomolvilas's script unfolds like a puzzle box, revealing its inner workings in surprising and sometimes audacious ways. When malevolent spirits aren’t terrorizing them, the characters are given the space to find moments of humor and tenderness among them."
One of the Top Ten Plays of the Year! "[A] touching (and terrifying) exploration of familial bonds and cultural heritage."
Acclaim for the Seattle Production
"Filled with supernatural elements, horror effects, heart-breaking moments, and honest takes on tough topics, The Brothers Paranormal seems to have too much on its plate. Yet, this is one of the most astonishing plays I have seen in years. Playwright Prince Gomolvilas's well-constructed story speaks to the heart of those who have experienced regret, guilt, isolation, grief, or loss. More than just 'a ghost story,' this heartfelt production is horrifyingly entertaining with countless twists and surprises."
Acclaim for the Juneau Production
"The inescapable reality of negative experiences haunts the main characters of Perseverance Theatre's latest play as persistently as any ghost—but there is at least one pretty scary ghost in the play, too. That's not to say The Brothers Paranormal, directed by Randy Reyes, is especially dark or dour. Prince Gomolvilas's play about two ghost-hunting brothers hired by a Black couple to investigate a potential haunting crackles with banter."
Acclaim for the Los Angeles Production
"It’s thrilling, humorous, and eye-opening!"
"The L.A. premiere of the show at East West Players is superb, and expertly delivers all the scares and surprises that the bigger budgeted and more advertised supernatural production currently at the Ahmanson, 2:22, attempts but can't quite achieve. One of the wonders of Gomolvilas's play is that it would still be compelling and interesting if you removed the supernatural element from it, which is a rare feat. His dialogue is sharp and funny, his characters are vivid and complex, and when the paranormal makes its presence known, nobody in the play remains unchanged."
"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."
"You don't have to believe in ghosts to succumb to the spell of Prince Gomolvilas's entertainingly spooky supernatural thriller. It's hard to imagine any...productions topping East West Players', not with Jeff Liu returning to direct an all-around fabulous Asian- and African-American cast in a production designed by some of L.A.'s finest. It's been a dozen years since Prince Gomolvilas's stage adaptation of Scott Heim's Mysterious Skin gave East West Players one of its finest productions ever, all the more reason to celebrate his return to the country's longest-running professional theatre of color."
"Ghosts, paranormal investigators, and a loving couple that just moved to their new home—it sounds like a reality TV series for binge watching. The Brothers Paranormal at East West Players turns out to be anything but. Instead, audiences are treated to a wonderful, heartfelt, humorous, and gut-wrenching drama about family, generational trauma, and memory. I will not spill the beans on the multiple reveals in the show, but I must assure you that this show is a hit. Drop everything and go now!"
"Under the direction of Jeff Liu and energized by a fine cast and a crack team of designers, there are plenty of thrills and chills, not to mention some clever comedic moments. The Brothers Paranormal does more than scare its audience; it tackles the more tangible fears and anxieties that invade the lives of so many of us in one way or another."
Asian America: The Ken Fong Podcast on April 24, 2019
Pioneer Press on April 29, 2019
Minnesota Public Radio on April 30, 2019
Northwest Asian Weekly on October 25, 2019
Radiozine on KBOO 90.7 FM on October 25, 2019
International Examiner on November 4, 2019
Juneau Afternoon on KTOO on February 9, 2022
Juneau Empire on February 14, 2022
Juneau Afternoon on KTOO on February 15, 2022
Capital Chat on TAKU 105 on February 16, 2022
Juneau Empire on February 16, 2022
Broadway World on November 9, 2022
Spectrum News 1 on November 11, 2022
Los Angeles Downtown News on November 12, 2022
CBS Los Angeles on November 16, 2022
2011 Developed in the L.A. Writers' Workshop at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, California
2012 First draft completed
2012 Staged reading by East West Players in Los Angeles, California
2013 Staged reading at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival in San Francisco, California
2014 Staged reading at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, California
2015 Staged reading by Pork Filled Productions in Seattle, California
2016 Staged reading at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, New York
2016 Staged reading by Pan Asian Repertory Theatre in New York City, New York
2018 Staged reading by Theatre Diaspora in Portland, Oregon
2018 Staged reading by Theatre Mu in Saint Paul, Minnesota
2019 World premiere production by Pan Asian Repertory Theatre at the Beckett Theatre in New York City, New York, directed by Jeff Liu and featuring Brian D. Coats, Natsuko Hirano, Vin Kridakorn, Emily Kuroda, Dawn L. Troupe, and Roy Vongtama
2019 Regional premiere production by Penumbra Theatre & Theatre Mu in Saint Paul, Minnesota, directed by Lou Bellamy and featuring James Craven, Sarah Michelle de Joya, Leslie Ishii, Kurt Kwan, Sherwin Resurreccion, and Regina Marie Williams
2019 Indiana Premiere Production by Fonseca Theatre Company in Indianapolis, Indiana, directed by Bryan Fonseca and featuring Ian Cruz, Kim Egan, Sean Qiu, Dena Toler, Diane Tsao, and Ansley Valentine
2019 West Coast Premiere Production by CoHo Productions & Theatre Diaspora in Portland, Oregon, directed by Catherine Ming T’ien Duffly and featuring Jasper Howard, Elaine Low, Melissa Magaña, Samson Syharath, Lidet Viravong, and Andrea White
2019 Washington Premiere Production by Pork Filled Productions in Seattle, Washington, directed by Mimi Kitano and featuring Ronnie Hill, Margaret Luxamon Hotchkiss, Kathy Hsieh, Sean Nguyen, Van Lang Pham, and Selena Whitaker-Paquiet
2020 Play published by Dramatic Publishing
2022 Alaska Premiere Production by Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska, directed by Randy Reyes and featuring Phai Giron, Leslie Ishii, Eddie Jones, Elizabeth Lynn Rakphongphairoj Kilrain, Vivian Melde, and Mike Rao
2022 California Premiere Production by East West Players in Los Angeles, California, directed by Jeff Liu and featuring Jasper Howard, David Huynh, Emily Kuroda, Ratana, Tamika Simpkins, and Roy Vongtama