It is interesting to note that two of our best independent theatre venues are currently presenting plays from the early 1980s.
Eternity Playhouse is showcasing the Ira Levin sluether DEATHTRAP and The Old Fitzroy has resurrected ORPHANS by Lyle Kessler.
Where DEATHTRAP is urbane, ORPHANS is urban, a gritty, visceral, muscular male tale, about sibling jetsam (father absconded, mother deceased) who exist in a shabby shoebox apartment.
The elder brother, Treat, has adopted the alpha status, and goes out day after day foraging feloniously, mugging, shoplifting, etc, while the younger, Philip, stays shuttered away, cosy in the closet with mum’s old coats or watching game shows and old movies on television.
Philip is somewhere in the spectrum and has been convinced by Treat that for him to venture outside would bring instantaneous allergic reaction. To reinforce his fealty, Treat keeps Philip in treats, specifically tuna fish and mayonnaise.
The dynamic changes drastically when Treat brings home Harold, a businessman he has rumbled in a tavern. Graduating from petty larceny to kidnapping, Treat doesn’t realise just who his catch is, and the idea of ransom becomes less handsome.
Captive soon does a divide and conquer, usurping Treat as alpha male, and unshackling Philip from his unnatural dependency.
Andrew Henry nails Treat a treat in a coiled, aggressive, close cropped, bull headed characterisation, and Aaron Glenane shines as Philip, exuding a childlike energy, swinging off bannisters and making cubby houses out of cupboards.
As Harold, Danny Adcock brings an enigmatic avuncular aspect to the shady character who inveigles his way into top dog status by empathetically confessing that he too is an orphan. Not only motherless but his mother tongue has been lost too, it seems, his accent a hybrid Henry Higgins would find a challenge.
Directed by Anthony Gooley on a grubby set orphaned of any homeliness, ORPHANS has found a good home in the revitalised basement theatre.
ORPHANS is playing the Old Fitz, 129 Dowling Street, corner Cathedral Street, Woolloomooloo until Saturday 9th May. Performance times- Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm and Sundays at 5pm.