Orphans (Kessler)by Lyle Kessler
“Orphans is theater for the senses and emotions . . . a shrewd pastiche that gains steadily in passion and tension.” —The New York Times, on the 1985 production
“I have dreamed, for a long time, of doing this play with this director.” —Alec Baldwin
Orphans premiered in 1983 at the Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles, was subsequently produced by Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, off-Broadway at the Westside Arts Theatre and in London, and was adapted for film, starring Albert Finney as Harold. The current production, directed by Daniel Sullivan and starring Alec Baldwin, Ben Foster, and Tom Sturridge, marks the play’s first Broadway presentation. In a run-down house in North Philadelphia live two orphan brothers: the reclusive, sensitive Philip, sealed off in a world of StarKist tuna and Errol Flynn movies, and Treat, a violent pickpocket and thief. Into this ferocious and funny world enters Harold, a mysterious, wealthy, middle-aged man who is kidnapped by Treat, but who soon turns the tables on the two brothers, changing forever the delicate power balance of their relationship. Both hilarious and heartbreaking, Orphans is a story of the universal love of a father for his son, and a son’s need to live his own life.
“Powerful! Lyle Kessler is a writer who dares to be theatrical and who grips us with emotions as raw as exposed wounds.” —Newsday
“Orphans keeps you transfixed. Imagine a cross between Pinter and Shepard, with a touch of grand guignol, and you get an idea of the quality of Orphans.” —New York Daily News