Play Review: Lucy Kirkwood’s ‘The Children’

Imagine taking the events of any big budget Hollywood disaster film and turning the after effects into a 3-character play documenting what has happened in those people’s lives. That’s the initial premise of Lucy Kirkwood’s terrific new play, The Children.

After a nuclear meltdown, Hazel and her husband, Robin, moved their lives to a remote seaside cabin and like most any long-married couple, they have a short hand, knowing just what to say in order to elicit the response they’re looking for.

When the play opens, you don’t really know the effects of what has happened. It’s more implied with dialogue on how long their electricity will be on, how much water they can use and the food they’re eating. But considering the situation, they seem to be getting by pretty well. Especially since they’re more adept then most at understanding what to do in this type of situation to stay alive and somewhat healthy.

Then, out of the blue, Rose knocks on their door. She used to work alongside them at the nuclear facility ages ago and at first everyone seems generally happy to see each other. Familiar faces in that situation seem to be a nice diversion.

But, slowly tensions arise as it’s revealed that, among other things that Rose and Robin had an on-going affair. But the true issues is why is Rose there? That’s the other shoe that drops because she’s got a secret that she’s keeping close to the vest.

Kirkwood chooses for Rose to finally come clean at the end of the play. Reading it, you wonder where the story is going. When it’s finally revealed that she is there to recruit Hazel and Rose to accompany her back to the nuclear facility, everything falls into place. They’ve had years long experience with the equipment and the people who are working to clean up the radioactive mess are young. They’re young people with families, people with kids that need their parents. Rose wants to help save them from a miserable, sick life.

Kirkwood paints a vivid picture. You can visualize the cabin and her dialogue is brisk and reveal so much about her characters.

As an audience member, I bet it’s a slow burn of reveal that will perk you up in your seat. As a reader, you’ll definitely want to go back for a re-read.

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