Art & Design


Q44′s Orphans

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When left to their own devices, boys will be boys, as is certainly the case for rough-and-tumble twosome Treat and Phillip.

Lyle Kessler’s grown orphaned brothers are the centre (and counter) points of his beautifully written, heartbreaking play – a mid-eighties creation that last year graced the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in New York (sporting the likes of Alec Baldwin – but don’t let that deter you).

It’s far from fun and games for the lone sibs, who inhabit a dilapidated North Philadelphia Row House, surviving on the fruits of Treat’s petty theft. Phillip is housebound, trapped by a mental deficit and irrational fear of the outside world that Treat does all he can to perpetuate. Their bond is as strong as it is dysfunctional, but thrown into new territory when Treat kidnaps an inebriated, slickly-suited stockbroker, Harold.

It’s funny, with Phillip’s ‘simple innocence’, daytime TV education and diet of Hellman’s mayonnaise providing many a precious, playful moment. But it’s equally frightening, with Treat’s violent streak penetrating the narrative in uncontrolled, ear-splitting spells.

Q44’s founder, Gabriella Rose-Carter directs this poignant one-acter, summoning a realism that’s cementing as her company’s signature. It results from a lengthy rehearsal process, allowing actors Mark Davis (Phillip) and Ashley McKenzie (Treat) ample time to nurture a relationship that comes across thick as blood. Introduced later in the process, Gareth Reeves (Harold) makes a markedly mysterious father figure – a rift in the brothers’ rut.

The cosy confine of the Q44 theatre space plants the audience well within Phillip and Treat’s abode, with the front row only narrowly missing a flung copy of the Chicago Tribune. It’s violent and vulnerable, tumultuous and tearful – an awakening serve of domestic drama.

Q44 Theatre Company
1st Floor, 550 Swan Street, Burnley
June 14-29

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