Bluefruit Theatre presents a captivating adaptation of British playwright Dennis Kelly’s psychological thriller, Orphans, exploring the conflict between family ties and moral responsibility.
“It is an incredible piece of writing – brutal, real and poetic all at the same time,” Bluefruit Theatre Artistic Director, Shona Benson, says of the play. “I began reading it and just couldn’t put it down. It’s a play which challenges both the actors as well as the audience – on an emotional and intellectual level – so as a director, it’s a really exciting find.” Directed and produced by Benson, Orphans invites us into the home of Danny and his newly pregnant wife Helen, whose untroubled existence is a kind of haven from the disturbing realities of violence and crime that occur on their doorstep. But when Helen’s brother Liam arrives unannounced, covered in someone else’s blood, the couple’s peace is thrown into turmoil and loyalties are tested. The play confronts issues of urban crime, racism and the breakdown of communities, raising pertinent questions about the nature of fear and the desperate need to feel safe within the family unit. “An overarching issue in the play is our fear of the outside, the unknown,” Benson explains. “Research shows that although our streets are technically safer than they have ever been in the past, the perception is that they are more violent than ever and are intimidating places to be. One of the reasons cited for this is that our communities have broken down, we no longer know our neighbours, we don’t go to local shops or the church each week, and we often live away from our families. It is all too easy to hide away, cocoon ourselves from horrors that exist outside our front door, but it’s impossible to escape them forever.” Although originally set in London, Benson says the play can easily resonate with a wider audience. “An urban environment which suffers from bouts of street crime, random acts of violence and racism are one that is sadly familiar to anyone who lives in any city anywhere. That is why I felt able to comfortably set it in Adelaide and I felt sure that all the issues would have total relevance and resonance to an Adelaide audience.” In an attempt to raise awareness of the issues explored in the play, Bluefruit Theatre has teamed up with local charity Time For Kids, which provides support and mentoring to disadvantaged children with similar backgrounds to the characters in Orphans. In support of the project, Time For Kids will host a Blue Carpet event on Friday, November 8, where VIP guests will be invited to see the first official performance of Orphans, attend an exclusive post-show party and sign their name on a ‘graffiti wall’ in the foyer of the Bakehouse. “Although the subject matter in Orphans is quite dark, I am very keen that there is a really positive outcome to it all too,” Benson says. “To highlight these sorts of positives and support an organisation [such as Time For Kids] through a dramatic piece of theatre is really rewarding.” Orphans The Bakehouse Theatre Thursday, November 7 to Saturday, November 23 bakehousetheatre.com