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Semiotic Elements in the Orphan

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). 

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).

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