After a highly lauded inaugural season of Dolores, newly launched Q44 Theatre is back with Lyle Kessler’s award winning play Orphans.
Q44 ensemble member Mark Davis plays the vulnerable, sensitive and house-bound Phillip in the piece. This younger brother still mourns the death of his mother while older brother Treat is out committing petty crimes to put food on the table. " Through deprivation of a normal parental upbringing Phillip has developed an amazing imagination," says Davis. "He has a thirst for knowledge and is a brilliant observer. He has the potential to grow into a well respected man but his brother Treat has kept him deprived to stunt his development so that Phillip will never leave him. Despite the abusive relationship Phillip loves and admires him."
As the younger of two boys, Davis relates strongly to the theme of brothers and all that entails. "I grew up loving and admiring my brother even when he was throwing me down the stairs in a sleeping bag," says Davis. "One of the main themes is brotherly love. I wanted to explore what life might have been like without a loving family."
As the actor, Davis' desire is to bring a truthful performance to the stage and, in seeking that, has uncovered a truism that many men should perhaps take heed of. "When finding parallels between the character and myself I avoided the obvious need for mothering," he explains. " I think that in our modern idea of masculinity we refuse our need for a mothers love. No grown man wants to be a mommy's boy. We explored this in rehearsal and once I dropped the bravado we found that parallel. Love you mum."
Davis is certainly an actor to watch. He is a graduate of 16th Street Full Time Acting School as well as having trained with the likes of renowned acting coaches Larry Moss & Susan Batson. TV credits include Winners & Losers and Offspring with film including The King is Dead, A Rush From Day To Night, Cinerversations and I Want You. Stage and screen can be very different mediums but Davis feels his training lends itself to both mediums. he also feels he is making the initial advances into both fields.
"Being on stage and filming are very different creatures. I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie so even the thought of being on stage carbonates me. I love the collaboration and time spent working on a playwrights every word. All my favourite film actors credit their time spent on stage for developing their craft."
Orphans is being directed by Q44 founder, actor, teacher and theatre maker Gabriella Rose-Carter. Davis acknowledges that Rose-Carter is not only his director but she has also become a very good mate. "I first met Gabriella in 2010 after enrolling in one of her sensory classes," says Davis. "It was all new to me and I was extremely shy but the work made sense to me and I have been working with Gabriella, on and off, ever since. We have a kind of telepathy where we sometimes have an in-depth conversation having used just four words and a tilt of the head."
Davis' involvement with Q44 was a perfect timing moment. It came about because of actor Ashley McKenzie's (playing Treat in Orphans) idea to put on Orphans and Rose-Carter's vision of starting a theatre company happening at the same time.
Kessler's Orphans is a brilliant three-hander which has been described as theatre for the senses and emotions. Davis tells me the most powerful moment happens at the end but, even though a lot of people are familiar with the play, he doesn't want to give it away. "Just in case my mum reads this," he says. "The redemption of Phillip and Treat through Harold couldn’t be more uplifting."
If you need further incentive to see the play, Davis tells me it also has knives and magic and, as we know, everyone likes magic!
Orphans plays June 14 – 29
550 Swan Street, Richmond VIC 3121