‘Orphans’ at Conklin Barn: A Deeply Moving, Dark Drama

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Playwright Lyle Kessler’s dark drama, “Orphans,” which has broken box office records around the world, opened at Huntington’s Conklin Barn to a sold-out house on Aug. 20.Directed with finesse by Jim Bonney, the play explores the primal fear of abandonment and its power over our behavior. Two brothers, Treat (Aaron Dalla Villa) and Phillip (Jay William Thomas), have been dealt a cruel blow by fate. Orphaned as young children by their father’s desertion and the death of their mother, they live hand-to-mouth in a rundown North Philly row house.Older brother Treat, interpreting the role of a father, supports the pair through petty thievery. To ward off any further abandonment, Treat has instilled Phillip with an intense fear of going outside and limits his access to any kind of knowledge that might empower him. A shut-in who spends most of his time watching The Price is Right, Phillip’s world has eclipsed into a few tiny rooms yet he harbors secrets that would make Treat angry. Hidden under the sofa are books and a painful remnant from the past—one of his mother’s shoes.The dynamics unexpectedly shift when Treat brings home Harold (Sean King), an inebriated businessman. Although Treat ties Harold up when he goes out to gather information about his ‘kidnap’ victim, Harold easily eludes these restraints and begins to assume the upper hand, both physically and psychologically.It turns out that Harold himself grew up in a Chicago orphanage. A man with a shady past whose enemies have followed him to Philly, the idea of hiding out while taking these two young men under his wing appeals to him. Harold wants to give these new age “dead end kids” the father figure he never had. Despite his best intentions, will it be easy to usurp the paternal role from Treat?Harold patiently encourages Phillip to slowly abandon his timeworn routines, delight in new discoveries and venture out into the world. At the same time, he is training Treat to be his emissary in a world in which he no longer feels safe. Treat has never known trust and does not do well when it comes to following rules and handling responsibility. When he feels that this interloper is trespassing on his relationship with his brother, a power struggle ensues.Audiences will find that the role of Harold, who has unexpectedly found his calling, provides King with the perfect vehicle for doing what he does best: turning the tables to his advantage and waxing nostalgic. His touching soliloquy about his days as an orphan paperboy in Chicago paints an eloquent picture which brings the audience to that windy night that cost his friend his life. It’s a stand-out.Dalla Villa shines as Treat, the older brother who has been jaded by life, having borne the weight of protector and breadwinner for far too long. Beneath the easy charm and cocky confidence of a streetwise con artist is a seething anger that threatens to boil over at any minute. And erupt it does. Dalla Villa deftly juggles these disparate emotions while maintaining the intensity that the role calls for throughout his performance.Thomas excels as the otherworldly Phillip, the wide-eyed innocent man-child who delights in Harold’s simple gift of a map of North Philadelphia and views the nightly illumination of the streetlamps as miraculous. He envisions beauty in simple things that Treat can no longer see. Phillip personifies hope.The ending wields an unexpected blow. What audiences come away with is that none of us are so different from these orphans. Love or any form of emotional attachment is inevitably coupled with risk and the pain of loss. What makes Bonney and King’s production of ‘Orphans’ so extraordinarily moving is that it touches those vulnerable places in the heart that reside in all of us.The Conklin Barn is located at 2 High Street off New York Ave. in Huntington. The show runs through Sept. 5. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com. On Sept. 4, theatergoers can meet the playwright, Lyle Kessler, who will engage in a Q&A session after the performance.last_img read more

Doug Marrone reaches agreement to coach Buffalo Bills, ESPN reports

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ The Buffalo Bills and Doug Marrone have reached an agreement for Marrone to become their next head coach, ESPN reported Sunday.Marrone leaves Syracuse after four seasons. He led the Orange to a 25-25 record during that span, including two Pinstripe Bowl victories. After coaching at his alma mater, Marrone, who was the offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints before becoming the head coach at Syracuse, is now back in the NFL.Attempts to reach Syracuse athletics for confirmation were unsuccessful.The former Syracuse head coach interviewed with the Cleveland Browns and had interest from the Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers in addition to Buffalo. Marrone will replace Chan Gailey, who went 16-32 as head coach.Marrone took over the Orange in 2009, and transformed a program that had won only 10 games during the four previous seasons under Greg Robinson. In his four seasons, Marrone led SU to records of 4-8, 8-5, 5-7 and 8-5.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter coaching at various colleges, he spent seven seasons as an assistant coach in the NFL. He was the offensive line coach with the Jets from 2002 to 2005, and was then with Drew Brees and the Saints from 2006 to 2008.The Bronx native restored Syracuse’s recruiting foothold in the New York City area. He led the Orange to a 36-34 win over Kansas State in the Pinstripe Bowl in just his second season with Syracuse.Syracuse started the 2012 season 2-4 amid turnovers and on-field blunders, but Marrone and the Orange reversed course and finished the year 5-1 en route to a postseason appearance.Syracuse beat West Virginia 38-14 in the Pinstripe Bowl. With that win, in addition to his NFL coaching experience, Marrone became an appealing candidate to return to the NFL.At the start of the season, Marrone oversaw an overhaul of Syracuse’s offense as the Orange adopted an up-tempo, no-huddle system. It’s a style that more and more NFL teams are running.Marrone is taking over a Bills team that struggled for more than a decade. Buffalo went 6-10 and finished tied for third in the AFC East. Marrone is also inheriting a quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who finished 18th among NFL quarterbacks in passing yards with 3,400.Buffalo’s defense struggled throughout the season. The unit was 22nd in the NFL in total defense and 31st in rush defense.The Bills have not made the playoffs in 13 seasons.We will continue to provide updates on Marrone and Syracuse’s coaching situation throughout the day. Comments Published on January 6, 2013 at 8:18 am Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_isemanlast_img read more