REVIEW: Draining drama pays dividends

Orphans,” written by Lyle Kessler, shifts its focus to the push and pull between Harold and the two brothers, and it can’t be stressed enough how important the performances are to the impact of the show. [Maxim] Chumov is the trusting innocent, optimistic but perhaps too gullible. [Billy] Hultquist is a powder keg, unable to process his emotions and prone to explosions. [Jamie] Flanery is reassuring one moment and intimidating the next. But there’s a touching vulnerability to all the performances, and watching the actors run through the dramatic calisthenics of the show’s closing scenes is as exhausting as it is rewarding.

The final quarter of “Orphans” is equal parts illuminating and devastating, as one of the brothers spirals into a personal crisis and the other begins to realize his full potential. This is a story of desperate characters in a hardscrabble world, and Kessler’s shocking ending reflects that: This isn’t a pleasant night out at the theater; it’s a grueling, draining play, and a crushing silence settles over the room when the lights go down one last time. But if you’re willing to be put through the wringer, “Orphans” is a tremendously rewarding and moving experience, and its simplicity and honesty cut right to the hearts of its characters.

-Nathan Weinbender, Spokesman-Review

Read the rest of the review online.

Photo credit: Colin Mulvany, Spokesman-Review