I saw the Broadway production of Orphans this past Saturday for the matinee showing. It is a shame that it has closed and even sadder it had to close early.
So, yes - I went even with the bad press it had received. I had seen Alec Baldwin's response which piqued my interest. And I had heard mention about the drama of the firing of Transformer star Shia LaBeouf while in rehearsals. (Please see links below if you want to catch up on any of those topics.) Despite all that, the reason I went to see the play was because I received feedback from two extremely different people: a young male actor that is in a reading I am working on and the CFO of my current day job. They both went to see this production and raved about it. I was intrigued and so my boyfriend, roommate, and I all went before it closed the next day.
There was an overall simplicity that fit the piece perfectly. I never felt that any emotions were forced as there was a believability and truth between the relationships. It was a strong cast and I really enjoyed the show. Ben Foster as Treat had a beautiful arc and I have trouble even picturing LaBeouf in that part. Sturridge as Phillip physically expressed himself so well that he was dynamic to watch, however, I did feel that he closed his eyes too much. While that might be spot on for a person of Treat's functionality it was done too much that I felt as an audience member left out. Alec Baldwin as Harold was Alec Baldwin's Harold a fresh and kinder approach. I liked how the Huffington Post described it, "There is an abstract Pinteresque quality to the role that Baldwin makes human, and one feels his Harold genuinely cares for both Philip and Treat, orphans like himself. It is a compelling performance than grows more credible as the play progresses and makes that final scene all the more moving."
It moved well and I liked how director Sullivan handled the transitions between the scenes continuing with action and adding high energy music. I was surprised by the time it was intermission feeling that I had barely been in my seat. After intermission the play built for a beautiful final scene. One thing I was unclear on was when the play was set. The dialogue seemed dated and with the emphasis on suits and Baldwin in a fedora I wasn't sure if the play took place in the 1950's, modern day or when it was written in the 80's. The electric guitar music that was used to transition set a great tone but didn't help hone what decade we were in. However, with the set dressing change in Act II it seemed the 1980's.
Regardless of when it was set what was timeless was the influence and importance of a father/son relationship. The yearning of approval and the need a son has for a father. It was heartbreaking and touching key to what made the production work so well.
This was a strong piece of work and I was glad I was able to see it.