James Franco took some time off from Making Art and doing his university homework to review plays for the Huffington Post. The Sean Penn comparison reared its three** heads again.
Orphans. Good. I saw this a while ago, in previews and forgot to write about it. I heard, as everyone did, that Ben Foster replaced Shia Labouf in the role of Treat. Ben is very good. Reminded me of a young Sean Penn for some reason, a combination of being tough and vulnerable. But also a bit awkward, in a good way. All three actors are very watchable.
*I still reference I Got A Man on occasion.
** This comparison has always been both good and frightening, but now it’s also awkward.
Alec Baldwin may have recently lost what he calls “perhaps the greatest gig that I’ve ever had” but that doesn’t mean that he’s given up the role of paterfamilias. A few weeks after the show’s final episode, the 55-year-old actor and his wife announced that they were expecting their first child, and now Baldwin is returning to the New York stage for the first time since 2006 as a mysterious gangster on the lam who takes two semiferal young men under his wing in the Broadway revival of Lyle Kessler’s psychological thriller Orphans. “There’s a good amount of poetry and fairy tale in this play,” Baldwin says. “If it’s done right, it has a wonderful mix of beauty and truth and violence and weirdness.”
Orphans premiered to strong reviews in Los Angeles in 1983, but it was the 1985 Steppenwolf Theatre production in Chicago (and later New York), directed by Gary Sinise with the company’s trademark rock-’em-sock-’em ferocity, that turned it into a cult classic. A three-hander exploding with savage emotion, it takes place entirely in the seedy North Philadelphia home shared by the siblings of the title: Treat (Ben Foster), a hoodlum who supports them by sticking up people at knifepoint, and Phillip (Tom Sturridge), who, convinced by his brother that it’s unsafe to leave the house, has remained inside for a decade or so, living on tuna sandwiches and television. One night, Treat returns home with a drunken, middle-aged stranger named Harold (Baldwin), whom he ties up and plans to rob. But Harold, himself an orphan since childhood, turns the tables and, after pistol-whipping Treat, moves in with the boys, becoming a kind of father to them while hiding out from some Chicago mobsters who want to kill him.
Foster’s shady Treat vacillates between menacing and childlike; at any point, you fear he may knife Harold, or hug him.
- Robert Kahn, NBC New York review of Orphans
Way to go, Ben!