Tonight, Nottingham New Theatre invites its audience to intrude upon the household of ordinary couple Helen and Danny, as they celebrate the news that Helen is pregnant with their second child. However, when Helen’s brother Liam interrupts their quiet night by coming home covered in blood, the couple must attempt to delve into his secrets and his story. Although Liam claims to have found a young man stabbed in the street, something isn’t quite right, and the couple are forced to tease out what he is hiding behind his innocent facade. Orphans by Dennis Kelly, is a story that exposes the darkest side of our very own society and touches on real issues of humanity that have often slipped under the radar.
With a small cast of three, the director creates an intimate atmosphere through the effective and clever use of sound at the opening. With the varying volume of music, the audience is made to feel both like an outsider to events taking place, yet subconsciously part of the household. Although it may have been the intention of the director to fashion a static flow of performance, with the focus primarily on the actors; the small cast size meant that the show runs a risk of being passed off as too slow in pace. However, the lack of activity within the performance and among characters is effective, as it allows us absorb every word and subtle emotion delivered by the powerful trio. Shannon Smith’s portrayal of Danny is especially remarkable, with his seamless portrayal of the struggling middle-class white male injecting compelling electricity into the production.
Orphans by Dennis Kelly, is a story that exposes the darkest side of our very own society and touches on real issues of humanity.
Being the first production to open this term’s NNT in-house season, the crew is put to an ambitious challenge. As the play concerns primarily the lives and relationships between three people, the audience is forced to focus solely on them. It makes it an almost impossible mission to develop all three characters fully with such limited rehearsal time, to portray the problematic life of a young man which requires not only life experiences, but also great subtlety in acting. Diedrik Ypma’s endeavor would have been guaranteed to have been excellent, if more of these qualities were shown. For the first half of the play, Ypma’s version of Liam only strikes the audience as more humorous than dispositional. However, the performance is then elevated by Liam’s angry scorn concerning the unjust capitalist system and his suppressed social status as a working class criminal. Another great challenge is the representation of a woman torn between her only brother and her husband, whose morals differ greatly from hers, which again, demands great subtlety from the performer. However, I felt that the lack of activity throughout the play, at times, undermined the psychological depth of the character.
As the play concerns primarily the lives and relationships between three people, the audience is forced to focus solely on them
Orphans directed by Gus Herbert is a gripping story filled with tension caused by opposing family loyalties. Each scene delving a level deeper into the heart of human ugliness, this episode of one dramatic evening drives the audience to reflect upon the values that we hold most dear, and to think – what is mankind really capable of?
Orphans is running at New Theatre until Saturday 28th February, for more information see here
See the NSTV backstage video here