October 7, 2010
How far will you go for someone you love? What are you prepared to do? How much of a dark side is there in a human being and what needs to happen to bring that out in us? These are the issues explored in Dennis Kelly’s award winning Orphans which opens at The Focus Theatre October 7th.
It starts with a blood soaked arrival at a middle class family home and spends the rest of the play uncovering where this blood came from. Described as an “urban thriller”- a phrase the writer hates- does director Mary Moynihan concur with this assertion? “It’s extremely well written in terms of creating suspense,” she says.” You’re never quite sure what is going to happen. And just when you think you do he completely pulls the rug out from under you.
“But what is underneath all that is a play about relationships. A play about human beings and their relations with one another and the effect they can have on us.”
Kelly is best known for co-writing Pulling with Sharon Horgan, a BBC3 show about ladies on the lash, yet his theatrical work has a much darker bent. From his first play Debris, which opened with the hero’s father being crucified in their living room to its follow up Osama The Hero, where the lead character is tied up and has his teeth smashed in with a hammer, his work pushes audiences out of their comfort zone. “Theatre should shock people, it should make them think” Moynihan says.” It has a strong function to entertain but I try to use my theatre to find a way to make it relevant to the world I live in. It has the power to change people’s lives and we have a duty to respect that and to use it for that purpose. “
The play was originally set in a slightly a skewed London Town but it could be any place where this social environment exists, any working class community where there is a sense of difference coming in. Moynihan has set her production in Dublin “Because for us it fit so well. People are the same no matter what. I mean we are different but there are similarities so it made sense for us to explore those similarities within our own environment.”
Kelly describes his plays as maximum impact. No conceit. No moral outrage. So while the play has a racial element it is more a product of the characters environment than any attempt by the writer to pontificate on race. “ Through one of the characters, who is involved in violence, he explores what drives someone to be involved in a racist act” Mary says.
The Focus Theatre, which recently reopened its doors after a four year health and safety break, is the perfect place to stage Orphans as the intimacy of the 40-seater venue allows you to be involved in what is happening. “I like small theatre spaces. You can do great things in them. The Focus is an intimate theatre and the audiences are brought into the heart of a human dilemma that’s up on the stage. “
Orphans by Dennis Kelly
Smashing Times Theatre Company
05 October at 20:00 – 30 October at 20:00
The Focus Theatre