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by Peter Colley

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ORPHANS by Lyle Kessler

New York audiences gave this play standing ovations when it opened there in 1985. Described as a theatrical thrill ride, it has been an international success throughout the world and joined the prestigious group of American modern classics. Performed in the past by leading actors such as Albert Finney and Al Pacino, the play was recently revived (2013) on Broadway to critical acclaim with Alec Baldwin. Two grown-up boys, abandoned by their parents at an early age, are living alone in an old house in Philadelphia. One night the older brother meets in a bar and brings home what he thinks is a wealthy business man. He ties the drunken man up with the intention of robbing him and demanding ransom money for his life. But the hostage, in reality a Chicago gangster on the run, mysteriously frees himself and takes control of the situation. Recognizing the brothers for lost boys (orphans, just like himself at one time), he “adopts” and mentors them, becoming their long lost father figure. In a strange, both menacing and moving way, the man turns the brothers’ lives upside down, with positive and tragic consequences. The play, which lives from its theatrical intensity and light comic touch, deals with our need for love, recognition, sense of worth and strong supportive bonds. “...funny one moment and powerfully emotional the next.” New York Times