Orphans is disturbingly timely

ORPHANS by Dennis Kelly (Coal Mine Theatre, 1454 Danforth). Runs to April 30. $35, rush $25. coalminetheatre.com. See listing. Rating:.


ORPHANS by Dennis Kelly (Coal Mine Theatre, 1454 Danforth). Runs to April 30. $35, rush $25. coalminetheatre.com. See listing. Rating: NNN

With the frequent and disturbing news reports about racially motivated hate crimes here and abroad, Dennis Kellys Orphans feels pretty timely.

Its hard to beat the opening image of Leora Morriss Coal Mine production for sheer punch: middle-class British couple Helen (Diana Bentley) and Danny (David Patrick Flemming) have been enjoying a nice dinner when Helens brother Liam (Tim Dowler-Coltman) appears, clothes torn, covered in blood.

The juxtaposition of terse domestic drama and shocking violence is intentional think Harold Pinter meets Quentin Tarantino. As Liams story about what happened unspools, it becomes clear that something isnt quite right. Holes appear in his narrative which begins with an account of how he was helping someone who had been injured and soon our sympathies, and the characters, start shifting.

Its best not to give too much away, but its worth noting that Helen and Liam grew up orphaned and Helen has always felt protective of her brother. Its a shame theres not more about Helens relationship with Danny, who, judging from his posh accent, hails from a different class.

But as the woman torn between one family and another, Bentley is marvellous, suggesting lots of subtext and conflict beneath her words. And Flemmings Danny, after hes pushed into action, is fascinating to watch.

Morriss clean and unfussy production doesnt provide any pat solutions – either to the characters dilemmas or the larger social situation. But it will make you think about the disturbing and pressing questions.

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