Lucy Kirkwood’s (Chimerica) tale of inheritance and legacy is simple yet hard-hitting and
Rose (Francesca Annis) has returned to England after working in America to visit her former physicist colleagues Hazel (Deborah Findlay) and Robin (Ron Cook) with a bold proposition after a nuclear disaster has destroyed the local area.
Annis is stunning as Rose; sly, intelligent, calm but ultimately a woman full of regrets who thinks she can make good on them with her idea; for retired workers to take on the work of younger ones at the local power plant. At a time of Brexit and an acknowledgement that the younger generation will never have it as good as their baby boomer elders, Kirkwood through an extreme metaphor, suggests what they should do; step aside and accept there is a younger generation who deserve access to everything they had.
Findlay as Hazel give a moving performance as a woman who has worked hard and wants to live well in retirement as well as a woman reluctant to give up on her role as a mother; but nuclear disasters and personal unhappiness cannot be solved by all the yoga and healthy eating she embarks on. Hazel is the voice of many; she’s not selfish but doesn’t believe her time has come at a time where people are living longer and as Ron Cook’s Robin suggests that their brains haven’t caught up with their bodies.
Whilst the character of Robin was entirely believable I am not sure Cook was the right casting. He needed to be better looking and more charming. I find Cook’s voice irritation and I struggled to believe these women would be interested in him at any time and that he was ever a top physicist on par with these women but that isn’t to say Cook doesn’t give it his all as a man who isn’t coping as well as Hazel when it comes ageing and considering his future in light of the recent disaster.
Miriam Buether known for her extravagant sets keeps it simple with this kitchen setting in one act, leaving James McDonald with little inspiration, the kudos goes to Peter Mumford’s lighting, which seems to reflect the post almost apocalyptic story well.
Ultimately this is a brave production from the Royal Court and Kirkwood; much of the audience are considering their own legacy and inheritance but there are times where it feels padded and like it should be more exceptional than it is. It is a considerate work but some of the scenes feel too long and it struggles to get to the ultimate point.
The Children is on at The Royal Court (Jerwood Downstairs) until 14 January https://royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/the-children/
Tickets from £10
Rush Tickets are available from the Today Tix app https://www.todaytix.com/shows/london/2962-the-children/rush