Casting of the Orphan
Orphans, a play written by Dennis Kelly and directed by Roxanna Silbert has Liam, Helen, Shane and Danny as the major characters. This is a composition of two men, one woman and a child. To bring out the theme of the play, the director assigned the characters to the following actors: Joe Armstrong (Liam), Claire-Louse Cordwell (Helen) and Jonathan McGuiness (Danny).
Joe Armstrong is a renowned actor with television credits such as the three series of Robin Hood (BBC), Whistleblower, Party Animals and others. His life as a theatre artist has seen him in several productions including: A night at the Dogs, How Love is Spelt and Protection. On her part, Claire-Louse Cordwell, a 2004 graduate of RADA, has featured in theatre plays like frontline, torn, Othello, days of significance and many more. Her four television and two radio credits include: The Day of Triffids, Law and Order, Eastenders, Retribution, Tudors, Lacy’s War respectively. Jonathan McGuiness has equally had an illustrious acting career. His appearance have been in plays such as metamorphosis, comfort me with apples, comedy of errors, twelfth night and others (Lotman, 2001).
It should be appreciated that the director made a wise decision in choosing experienced actors to assume roles in the play. Actors with experience like the one that these actors possess, are very vital in the production of a play. It saves the production a big junk of time that could have gone into coaching and training novices. This in itself looks like a good idea until one looks at the other side of the coin. The choice of exclusively working with seasoned actors denies learners the opportunity to grow. Furthermore, dealing with seasoned actors means that a lot of money is spent on their allowances as opposed to greenhorns (Paines Plough, 2009).
The choice of Armstrong to act as Liam was commendable. He is very comfortable with all his phrases and he seems to be very clear and eloquent with his speech. On the contrary, Helen and McGuiness encounter difficulties with the words. In some cases, the two spell some words with a slight staginess. It is not clear whether the director of the play intentionally orchestrated this to achieve some specific objective, but what is certain is that the staccato poetry is very consistent between the two. Such inarticulate conversations are meant to heighten tension in a play. What seems disturbing is the fact that there is no uniformity. Why, for example, did the director leave out Armstrong out of this speech malfunction? Wouldn’t it have been more convincing if Liam, the person directly involved in the violence, was the one to stammer and stagger in his speeches?
Overall, the play has achieved a great measure of success. This is true since the play has so far received awards like the Fringe First award. The award and several others go a long way to demonstrate that the play is highly rated and enjoyed by majority.
Set Design of the Orphan
In her attempt to capture the themes of the play Orphans, Garance Marneur employed several props. These props were used to represent certain feelings. Her idea of using prison-like bars behind the dining room to evoke the captive nature of the family’s situation is brilliant. The audience, without being told, easily identifies that the trio are enslaved in a situation teeming with terror and fear. Therefore, the designer decided to use the most common physical object that represents imprisonment and this was the prison bars. However, the comprehension of this symbolism might be missed by many in the audience. To some, the presence of prison bars in the couple’s dining room might not mean anything or worse still it may look like a misplaced arrangement to others. Therefore, Marneur’s symbolism on captivity might only be available to keen observers and individuals armed with knowledge in theatre arts. Since people gifted with this kind of knowledge are limited, her effort on this prop might not reap substantial recognition (Lotman, 2001).
As Paines Plough (2009) puts it, there is no doubt that any person watching this play will experience some fear. It is also true that this fear is not self-generated but instead it is created by the actions and the props present in this play. Apart from the blood stains on Liam’s clothes, other aspects in the play instill fear in the audience. For the fear of falling victims to street violence, the home to this couple is fenced and this can be seen in the silhouetted spikes. I like this arrangement because it captures the security concerns of this family. Although the designer wants the audience to feel the insecurity through this robust fencing, the real threat to the security is present on the streets. The two, Liam and Armstrong, experience the violence away from the precinct of their homes. There is nowhere in the play that we see invasions into the home by criminal gangs. Therefore the necessity of this fencing is not demonstrated in the play. If there were any incidences in the play that demonstrated insecurity being curbed by the fencing then the setting could have achieved some meaning.
There is a strong cause for the family to be united behind a common strategy in pursuit of peace. The set designer seemed to have observed this since the oneness is crafted in the family portrait. A close embrace between the couple on the family portrait is the designer’s concerted effort to bring out the struggle. A portrait of this nature, in most incidences, demonstrates presence of unity and the willingness to work and achieve together. I think what we have in the play is a desire for unity but not achieved unity. The disagreement between the couple on the step to take after Liam arrives home smeared with blood points to the fact that the partners are not united. There is a strong bond between the siblings, Liam and Helen, than there seems to be between the couple, yet the portrait contains only the images of the couple. This shows how the set designer slightly missed out on the representation (Paines Plough, 2009).