|Cast Photo / Joan Marcus|
Orphans is also rich in irony, but the irony here is dark & bittersweet and sometimes just simply brutal & bitter, and considerably more complex and subtle. The ostensible "kidnappers" are the sociopathic Treat (the older brother: a thug, a petty criminal, a loudmouth & a bully) and the intellectually stunted & emotionally occluded Phillip, a boy-man who can't read, can't figure things out, can't even tie his own shoes ... and can't leave the North Philadelphia tenement-like row house in which they grew up with their mother (who died or departed) and where (now confined) he simply watches old movies (he seems to know every Errol Flynn flick, for example) every day for fear that, if, against his brother's dictate, he goes out into the street, he will not be able to breath the external air, day or night, and he will faint or ooze oral or nasal secretions, or suffocate & die.
|Photo / Joan Marcus|
But soon, Treat brings home Harold who he has, he thinks, kidnapped and who appears to be a rich businessman with lots of accoutrements, lots of ready cash ... a prize middle-aged male specimen who Treat intends to, if necessary, brutally shake down. But Treat doesn't know Harold, at all; he doesn't know that Harold was (and still is) a big-time Chicago-based gangster with lots of old (real) enemies and who was, himself, an orphan living among orphans.
And thus, there will be no money exchanged for Harold -- everyone from Chicago is looking for him and wants to take him down ... to kill him but not buy him his freedom. And Harold is no "Red Chief"; rather, Harold wants to change these two boys; tame them; help them; pay them well; and ensure them that he will have them working for him after a certain period of time -- of change, of growth, of motivation, of "training" (of sorts) in anger-management, and "civilizing" them (in terms of their conversation, clothes & food; and, also, in living in a more carefully re-organized, respectable & newly appointed apartment.
The orphan brothers, having had Harold enter their lives, will , indeed, be changed for ever. They will have a "father" and he will have "sons." Phillip will become a friend & son to Harold and will be motivated by him in all respects ... even navigating his way around Philadelphia with a map (he has rarely before been out of the house; he has never seen a city map!) that Harold teaches him to read & negotiate. Treat learns to work for Harold and, under his guidance becomes, well, what might be termed a "bag" man for him ... now that he is slowly becoming suitable for "serious" outside work on Harold's behalf. While Phillip seems to get on well & easily with this father figure, Treat remains somewhat angry & edgy and uncomfortable in his new role -- even with new suits & new shoes & the use of Harold's credit card -- and slow to adapt to Harold's "rules," manners, ideas, and work ethic, if we can call it that.
But this new "family" seems to be getting on a bit too comfortably to be believed & fully supported by Treat; he soon has a few major "professional" & personal-emotional lapses that upset Harold ... and presently Treat will leave the apartment stormily because he feels he is being suffocated & subsumed under Harold's rule and Harold's business ... Harold's "plans" for him. To where, exactly, he goes, we are not privy ... but he returns after a while to sniff around the apartment and to find out what's been transpiring. But Harold is not to be found at home ... he is downtown ... and when he returns, well, the boys will be grieving once again over their new orphan status.
Orphans is well acted and directed competently by the seemingly indefatigable & omnipresent Daniel Sullivan. The ensemble works seemlessly during the play's two acts. Kudos especially go to Alec Baldwin for his fine performance as the Irish gangster, Harold. But Mr. Foster and Mr. Sturridge must also be praised for their idiosyncratic & consistent character delineation as they each wend their way throughout the proceedings.
Orphans is hardly what you might consider an upbeat play & a happy theater experience; it is, most fundamentally, a dreary, depressing & bleak play, with some high notes in various spots -- e.g., within certain sections of Harold's speeches. These characters are not loveable; perhaps, with the exception of Harold, not even likeable; you don't identify with them. And the play itself -- as a whole work, unified & full circle -- leaves us a little empty, a little annoyed, with only minimal feelings of pathos, a bit upset, emotionally confused, shaken & off-balance. But don't take my word: Experience this bitter comedy-drama for yourself when it opens ... The play is scheduled for a limited Broadway run (through June 30th).
|Ember Room - Exterior|
|Ember Room - Interior|
|Red Chili Sea Bass|
|Green Curry Lasagna|
|Heritage Pork Belly|
All of these plates proved consistently fresh, unusually tasty & wholly seductive to our quartet of palates!
|Citrus Layered Crepe Cake|
|Thai Style Meatballs|
Hope to see you all some time in the not-too-distant future enjoying the unique Thai fusion cuisine at the Ember Room!