Coal Mine Theatre’s Orphans appears gripping and clever, but offers limited depth

From the U.K. comes Orphans, a play about urban fear that is gripping and clever, but ultimately hollow.

The literal orphans of Dennis Kelly’s play are Helen and Liam, a brother and sister in their 20s who lost their parents in a fire when they were children. Helen is now married to Danny who unlike his wife and brother-in-law speaks with a BBC accent, and so may be taken to embody middle-class liberal values. We are told that Danny has a good job though not what it is; I reckon he’s a teacher.

Helen and Liam are still close, so close that Liam has a key to Helen and Danny’s house, and is likely to turn up unexpectedly. Which is what he does at the beginning of the play, interrupting a nice celebratory dinner for two. Liam is nervous and covered in blood. He explains, sometimes haltingly, sometimes in a rush, that

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