Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director; produced playwright (21 plays). Scripts pub. Currency Press. She worked as actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate was Head of Drama/Teacher, NMIT; Coordinator of Prof. Writing/ Editing, Swinburne Uni. Read her reviews here or: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
DENNIS Kelly's Orphans, directed by Imara Savage, is harrowing and leaves one feeling violated, tense and fearful.
In a London flat, Helen (Erin Dewar) and Danny's (Philip Hayden) quiet dinner is abruptly interrupted by the arrival of Helen's brother, Liam (Paul Ashcroft), drenched in another man's blood.
Over one relentless night, a disturbing tragedy unfolds, raising a challenging, ethical argument about loyalty to family, community and the law.
Kelly's characters are confused and out of control, which is evident in their rapid, fractured dialogue and muddled thoughts.
Like a jury in a courtroom, we struggle to isolate truth from fiction as Liam frantically justifies his blood-soaked T-shirt with a story about helping an injured boy - a story that quickly unravels to implicate him.
Ashcroft is remarkable as the distraught Liam –the deprived child who is now a dysfunctional man – raving in disjointed phrases and teetering on the brink of violence, rage and resentment.
As Danny, Hayden captures our own powerlessness and voices the moral argument about calling the police when a crime is committed.
Dewar’s Helen is a feisty, wolf-mother protecting her brother but sending her entire family hurtling into a perilous, ultimately bloody, Greek tragedy.
If you like light entertainment, this is not for you. This play is like a runaway train.
Red Stitch Actors Theatre, Oct 7 until November 5
Star rating: ****