In a country where pro-lifers are willing to kill to make their point, one would assume that there would be far fewer children growing up parentless. This is not the case, however, since the pro-life argument is more about self-righteousness and control than it is about pro-active social reform and compassion.
Eric C. Lawrence, Matthew
Dent, Paul Borillo
Photo by:
Judith Phillips Photography

In lieu of adoptive programs then, most parentless children grow up orphans. In many cases, the lack of support and encouragement leaves a lasting and negative impression upon their souls.

Playwright Lyle Kessler's dark comedy, Orphans, is about three such people who turn to a life of crime to support themselves. In Nomad Theatre's current production, real life brothers Eric Lawrence and Matthew Dente play brothers Treat and Phillip, a pair of North Philadelphia petty thieves who end up "kidnapping" Harold, a big time hoodlum, played by Paul Borrillo.

While it may seem surprising to find much humor in this situation, it's a tribute to Kessler's finely tuned script, Chris Tabb's direction, and the excellence of the cast that the audience simply cannot prevent themselves from guffawing at the bizarre and dysfunctional antics of these three characters. Lawrence's intensity as the abusive Treat still leaves room for the hurt child within, which makes for an unexpected and astounding catharsis at the conclusion. Dente's emotionally and mentally challenged Phillip is a compelling study in great character work. Borrillo, voted best actor the past two seasons by the Denver Drama Critics Circle, is effortless in his portrayal of the fatherly and slick Harold.

This is a non-stop production that will keep you involved every second and leave you surprised at the manner in which you've been moved. The Nomad Theatre's production of Orphans runs through June 9th. Box office: 303-774-4037.


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