Sketch of ORPHANS by Thomas Thorspecken

Thomas Thorspecken (Thor) sketches ORPHANS at Theater On The Edge.

"This show got under my skin." - by Thoman Thorspecken


Orphans written by Lyle Kessler is being presented by the artistic production team at Theater on the Edge (5542 Hansel Ave, Orlando, FL 32809). I am a huge fan of their hyper realistic set designs by the amazing Samantha DiGeorge. The attention to period detail allows me to get lost in that particular place and time. The plays presented in this intimate space highlight an American aesthetic of brutality and unfulfilled dreams. Orphans is set in 1989 in a two story rundown Philadelphia row house. During the pre show, Philip (Adam Minossa) was mashing cereal in his breakfast bowl and then sat to watch a TV game show. He lived his innocent preoccupied life in the home as the audience filled in. He settled in on the couch to watch TV while hugging a red woman's high heal shoe. When he sees his brother Trent (Zack Roundy) approaching, through the window, he rushed to clean up the place and then hid in the closet.

Trent is a terror. He has returned to show off his earnings form the mornings robberies. He likes to taunt his simple brother and a game of tag became a power struggle between the siblings. The red high heal shoe becomes another point of contention and Trent throws it out the window on the front lawn. A painful head lock is the only sign of affection between the two.

On another occasion, Trent returns to the house with a drunk business man. When the man passes out on the floor, Trent takes his brief case and forces it open on the kitchen table with his knife. Inside are piles of stocks and bonds. Kidnapping this man would clearly be extremely profitable. While out looking to cash the stocks and calling people for the ransom, he leaves his brother to watch the now tied up business man. The ropes are sloppily tied and loose so, Harold, the business man (Allan Whitehead) gets free. He doesn't try to escape however and goes up stairs to clean up.

Trent isn't pleased when he returns and there is a power struggle between Trent and Harold. Harold doesn't play the part of a victim but instead says he likes Trent's anger and could use hims as a body guard. Harold grew up as an orphan and he sees a bit of himself in Trent's deviant behavior. He becomes a father figure to both the boys offering support and affection the boys clearly lacked probably after their parents deaths. He builds Philip's confidence to the point where the boy is able to venture out into the world alone.

The end of the second act ended with gut wrenching results. When the house lights came back up, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Someone said, there should be a warning before the show begins. All three actors did an amazing job exploring their characters and their underlying motives. The intricate relationships left me wishing there was more time to see what happened next. On the car ride home with Pam Schwartz, I was full of questions. I had a an affection for the characters and couldn't let go. Perhaps that is a sign of great theater. This show got under my skin exposing regrets and the need for acceptance that seems never realized. I highly recommend this production.