Although it took three decades for Lyle Kessler’s three-actor drama “Orphans” to finally make it to Broadway, this production managed to make headlines even before previews began thanks to some serious backstage drama.
“Orphans” observes Treat (Ben Foster) and Phillip (Tom Sturridge), a pair of adult brothers living in a dilapidated row house in Philadelphia. While Treat makes a living as a petty thief, he attempts to keep Phillip safe at home and blissfully ignorant.
One day, Treat brings home the inebriated Harold (Alec Baldwin), believing he may be a rich businessman who could be kidnapped for a ransom.
Harold is actually a chipper but powerful gangster who, after having freed himself, decides to become a surrogate father to the boys. Pretty soon the house is spruced up and Treat is serving as Harold’s assistant.
Shia LaBeouf, who was originally cast as Treat, was fired before previews began due to his allegedly erratic behavior during rehearsals. He then posted on Twitter private emails exchanged between himself and his co-stars and director Dan Sullivan concerning his departure.
Kessler’s play attempts to combine traditional family drama with raw, kitchen-sink realism and absurdist logic. Although the unusual scenario that it explores is engaging at first, it eventually runs out of steam and inspiration.
Nevertheless, under Sullivan’s direction, all three cast members deliver tremendous performances with ensemble unity. It also can’t be denied that Baldwin’s Harold is reminiscent of the outsized persona of Jack Donaghy on “30 Rock.”
“Orphans” plays at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre through June 30. 236 W. 45th St., 212-239-6200, telecharge.com.