Book Review: Orphans by Lyle Kessler

Orphans (Kessler) (Samual French Acting Edition): Lyle Kessler:  9780573619786: Amazon.com: Books

Title: Orphans

Author: Lyle Kessler

Genre: Plays

Number of Pages: 114

Rating: A-

Recommended?: Yes


I had been wanting to watch the film adaptation of this for a long time, but it’s hard to get a copy online so I read the play instead. Orphans is a bittersweet character-driven drama with fascinating relationships. It’s primarily set in one location and it’s about two brothers who kidnap an older man in hopes of holding him for ransom, only for him to gain the upper hand and become an unlikely paternal figure in their lives.

One of the brothers, Philip, appears to be mentally handicapped and it’s a lot easier for the older man to earn his trust but the other one is violent and distrustful. This play has a very raw, realistic feel to it and the characters are really engaging. I especially liked Philip, he really came to life for me. As you might infer from the title, Orphans is a sad play and you get a sense early on that the characters’ makeshift family will be tragically short-lived.

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