By Lyle Kessler. Q44 Theatre Company. Directed by Gabriella Rose-Carter. 1st Floor, 550 Swan Street, Richmond (Vic). 14 – 29 June, 2014

Orphans by Lyle Kessler is a gritty play about two orphan brothers, Treat, a petty criminal and Phillip, an innocent restricted to the house due to possible life threatening allergies, and the impact on their lives when Treat decides to move up from petty theft and kidnaps a gangster. The arrival of Howard into their narrow world upsets the violent yet delicate control Treat has over his brother.

Q44 theatre has created a powerful performance in a tiny garret theatre in Richmond. The stage setting incorporated physical aspects of the old warehouse space beautifully and the intimate positioning of the audience, no more than 4 metres from the action, makes for an intense experience.

The cast of Ashley Mckenzie as Treat, Mark Davis as Phillip and Gareth Reeves as Harold all gave powerful performances while maintaining excellent American accents. Direction was tight and the build up of tension was palpable as the power shifted between characters and the relationships transformed.

Orphans is at times violent and shocking but also has moments of humour and whimsy. Q44’s version is powerful and deserves an audience.

Shirley Jensen

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