by Lyle Kessler
Directed by Rhonda Clark
ORPHANS is the story of two brothers who have lived
together for years in an old row house in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly
Treat, the older
brother, is a petty thief who supports the two of them by holding up victims at
knifepoint. Younger brother Phillip is a naïve wild child and something of a
prisoner in their rundown home, convinced that he is allergic to the outdoors.
Trapped inside day in and day out, his knowledge of the world is largely
from old movies, game shows and what he witnesses passing by his living room
When Treat has
an especially profitable day mugging people in the park, he heads out to
celebrate and meets drunken Harold in a downtown bar. Thinking Harold is a
wealthy businessman, Treat brings him home, planning to roll him or even hold
him for ransom. We discover that like the young men, Harold is an orphan, but he's
also a con artist on the lam from Chicago and a romantic storyteller. He sets up
their house as his new base of operations and goes about being a civilizing
father figure to the two "Dead End Kids."
Harold sets off a chain reaction of role reversals and power struggles that
ultimately lead all three to find the familial connections that life has always
Kessler also penned the screenplay for "Orphans,"
which starred Albert Finney, Matthew Modine and Kevin Anderson. His other films
include "The Saint of Fort Washington"
and "Touched," among others.
Having studied acting with Lee Strasberg, he co-moderates the Playwright/Directors
Unit of The Actors Studio West, and has served as the director of the Sundance
Screenwriter's Lab. His other plays include
"The Watering Place" and
"Orphans" is set to play
Broadway in 2009 with Al Pacino starring as Harold.