I have seen many end-of-the world dramas over the years, but none quite as personal and unsettling as Lucy Kirkwood’s “The Children”, given a powerful performance by three masterful actors.
A local nuclear accident has brought chaos and uncertainty to this small coastal English community, causing Hazel and Robin to leave their farm and settle into a small cottage, where they live simply with their Geiger counter, rationing water and electricity.
They receive an unexpected visit from Rose, a former friend and colleague, who left the village for America 38 years ago.
The three have some history, having worked together at the nuclear power plant and formed a close friendship. And by the way, Robin had a sexual relationship with Rose.
Why has Rose returned after all these years?
Rose (Trinity’s Phyllis Kay) and Hazel (Gamm’s Candice Brown) have a lot of catching up to do before Robin (Veteran RI actor and Kay’s husband) shows up and things start to unravel.
Kirkwood’s dialogue, while a bit overdone, sets the tone for bigger issues. While much of the conversation centers around Hazel and Robin’s children and Rose’s lack of children, we soon realize that there are bigger hidden agendas to deal with.
I found the play a bit too disconcerting, with Kirkwood throwing her dark humor into the disturbing dialogue.
Three quarters of the one-act, hour and a half play go by before we learn the real reason for Rose’s return, causing a disruption of Hazel and Robin’s simple and orderly lifestyle.
Set in a comfortable cottage, with the real world is crumbling around them, gloom and doom lurk just outside the doors. Who is responsible for the environmental disaster?
We soon realize that this play is about much more than a long overdue reunion, and rekindling of some good and some unpleasant memories.
Any semblance of normalcy has been compromised outside the cabin.
Can the lives of the three individuals be redeemed? Can they deal with their own guilt and regrets?
Is there any hope for the children?
Kirkwood offers no easy answers.
Steve Kidd, in his first directorial role, does a fine job in keeping the issues and characters on a straight and narrow path.
Fortunately, he has three of Rhode Island’s best to work with. Their timing is perfect. The English accents are convincingly legible. Their characters are sharply defined.
While not my favorite play, watching these three actors perform is well worth the price of admission.
“The Children” is at Warwick’s Gamm Theater through May 14. Go to Gammtheatre.org for reservations.