Not everyone can relate to coming from tough backgrounds.
But audience members will feel a connection to the three characters in the drama "Orphans," says director Maxine Agather.
"They are so raw, tangible and relatable, even if they don't seem like they would be at first," Agather said. "I think that is what people will walk away remembering, is the characters and how they make them feel."
The next Majestic Reader's Theatre production has two performances Sunday in the Majestic Lab Theatre.
The play, written by Lyle Kessler in 1983, centers on two brothers in Philadelphia who were orphaned when their parents died. All this time they have lived in their abandoned house. The older brother, Treat, played by Rory McDaniel, is about 23 years old. He supports them by going out every day to pick pockets, steal and mug people, Agather said.
Treat keeps Phillip (Chance Tyler), his 15-year-old younger brother, confined to the house.
"He (Treat) has told him that if he goes outside he'll have an allergic reaction to the air, will swell up and stop breathing. He will literally die," Agather said.
Phillip is extremely underdeveloped mentally, because he isn't allowed to read, she said.
One night Treat meets an older man, Harold (Jens Lovtang), wearing a business suit and carrying a briefcase, at a bar. Treat gets Harold drunk and convinces him to come to his house. His plan is to kidnap Harold and hold him for ransom.
But it turns out that Harold was also an orphan growing up, and he forms a bond with the two brothers.
"He ends up becoming a mentor to them and showing them how they can make it in the world," Agather said. "He gives them chances they didn't have before."
And, she added, "There's a twist at the end."
"Orphans" has been performed nationally and internationally, most recently on Broadway in 2013, with Alec Baldwin as Harold. It received two Tony Award nominations. Two actors, Albert Finney, who was also in a 1987 film adaptation, and John Mahoney from "Frasier," have won awards for their portrayals of Harold on stage.
This is the directorial debut for Agather, who played a role last April in Ayn Rand's murder-mystery, "Think Twice," at the Majestic Reader's Theatre.
It is also the first speaking role for Lovtang as Harold.
"He's been a teacher and a choir director, so he's been on the leading side of things. He brings that energy and leadership to the role," Agather said.
The director said she has received a lot of support from the Majestic's staff, and is pleased with how the three actors have delivered on the script.
"Everything is there in the script, and they just bring it out," she said. "I think it's really great what we've managed to do."