Alec Baldwin was the star of Orphans but it was his co-star Tom Sturridge who eclipsed in the eyes of some critics in what was a decidedly non-consensual round of reviews for the revival of Lyle Kessler’s play Orphans, which opened Thursday night (April 18, 2013) at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater.

Where The New York Times ranted, Variety raved and the New York Post were decidedly unsure as they each ran the gamut over the opening night, which saw what is recognized as one of the hardest hitting theatrical drama of the 1980’s constantly bring its audience to laughter – not the effect that past performers of the play would be accustomed to. There is a darkly comic edge to the script, which follows two grown orphans who live in a dilapidated house in North Philadelphia. It is Sturridge who plays brother Phillip that the Post chooses to praise: “what we remember is Sturridge’s astonishing turn” they write. “The young British actor is fearlessly physical, but he also gives us the sense of a wild child opening up to the world outside his window. Phillip may be the most unstable character on the stage, but he’s the one who keeps the show together.”

The New York Times however are full of disdain for the show, calling it “limp,” and, though agreeing in part with the Post about Sturridge’s turn, ultimately decide that he’s “about it for kicks of color in this dispiritingly pallid show.” Thankfully for the play – which saw Shia Labeouf leave production during rehearsals – Variety are fans, commenting that the humor “suits Sullivan’s own interpretation, radical in its way, which is to mine the vein of tenderness that lies deeper in the play.”

Alec Baldwin
Some feel Alec Baldwin was eclipsed last night (April 18, 2013)