The first thing you notice when entering the Manhattan Theatre Club to see The Children, written by Lucy Kirkwood, is that the stage is a bit off-kilter. The play starts with many unanswered questions such as… How did the cottage end up askew? Why is there a woman standing in the kitchen with blood on her face? What is the relationship between these two women, Rose and Hazel? And how is Rose so familiar with a home she has purportedly never been in? When Hazel’s husband, Robin, arrives we begin to receive some answers though even more questions arise. As the story unfolds the truth of their circumstances is revealed, which leaves the audience to question their own decisions in this world.
This show had me thinking it was a fast forwarded version of Meteor Shower without all of the alternative scenarios, save the ones played out in each person’s psyche. Like Meteor Shower, the drama ensued over one awkward afternoon into evening. Like Meteor Shower the story was loaded with disrupters of the natural disaster and human kind. Like Meteor Shower there was a delicate exchange at times, and then a full frontal dance of aggressions and transgressions. While Meteor Shower kicks off with a pre-game glass of wine, our cast in The Children begins with, under the guise of comforting, a cup of tea, but as they transitioned from tea to home brewed wine things got testier and testier.
Each character in The Children was struggling with and coping in kind with his/her inner demons, as well as the natural demons lurking some miles from the tired and lopsided cottage. The coping mechanisms included: clinging to routine, yoga, sex or methods to avoid it, smoking, alcohol and burying bovine casualties of radiation. But these coping mechanisms do not constitute a life; they are more a selfish, even childish, course of action. No matter how many times you shrilly repeat “you grow or you die” only one of these options is guaranteed. While Hazel, Robin and Rose are masters of their own demise, there is an offer of salvation at the end, though said salvation does come with consequences of the dire variety.
The acting on stage in The Children was concomitant with the drama being portrayed. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to see these three actors emote and recede and erupt and arrive together on the precipice of a painful and watery peace.
The show was rife with opportunities for further pondering, which my little group and I were happy to oblige. You should grab a little group and go ponder things too. It is closing February 4th.