Hungry Wolf Theatre Presents ORPHANS

Fraternal bonds are set to break

By Myron My

The bond between brothers, or any siblings for that matter, is a bond for life. After all, as the adage goes, you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. Lyle Kessler’s Orphans, two brothers share the pain of having a mother who has died and a father that has abandoned them. While both of them choose to deal with the pain and protect themselves and each other in different ways, emotions gradually reach boiling point where something has got to give.


In Hungry Wolf Theatre‘s current production, Mark Davis as younger brother Phillip continues to impress me with his ability in bringing his varied characters to life. It’s testament to his skill and talent that Davis is physically and emotionally the complete opposite to the character I last saw him in: Q44‘s brilliant production of Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love last year. The machismo and hot-bloodedness of Eddie is nowhere to be seen in Phillip, an innocent, sheltered individual who falls somewhere on the high-functioning Autism disorder spectrum. It is almost like the performer has ceased to exist as each movement, each stare, each thought process is overtaken by Phillip and for a show that goes for over two hours, it is a challenging feat that Davis smashes through.

Danny Zivaljevic as the older, more volatile brother, Treat, has a strong presence on stage and physically captures the anger that is boiling inside the character. It’s an anger that we recognise if Treat doesn’t control soon enough, will eventually be his undoing. I confess I would have liked to see Zivaljevic try and work more with the subtleties and the nuances of these anger issues that would have allowed Treat to feel like a better-rounded character. Meanwhile, Sebastian Gunner is much at ease with Harold, finding the perfect balance between his comedic, threatening and sensitive nature.

The committed performances from the actors are unfortunately let down by a script that for me lacks true suspense or tension and doesn’t seem to lead anywhere – nor does it explore the characters’ relationships to the depth that I feel would be more rewarding for the audience. However,  Peter Blackburn’s strong direction here and use of the space builds a claustrophobic and still somewhat suspenseful environment within the confines of the brothers’ living room.

Despite the script not being as engaging as I would have liked it to be, the captivating performances alone are worth seeing in this production of Orphans by Hungry Wolf Theatre.

Venue: Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham St, Albert Park, 3206
 Until 23 April | 3pm and 7.30pm
 $30 Full | $20 Conc

Bookings: Gasworks Arts Park