Does the previous generation have a duty to fix the mistakes of their past? How can they prepare the world for their children? How far are they willing to go?
The Children is a gathering of powerhouse performances. This tightly contained story is intense, darkly funny, with a smart use of science-fiction. It has a shocking opening that hints at the roiling destruction surrounding the characters. It is disturbing and thought-provoking.
Set along the coast of England, married nuclear-physicists, Robin (Geordie Johnson) and Hazel (Laurie Paton), are living in retirement. There had been an environmental disaster that included an accident at the local nuclear reactor forcing them to leave their farm and live in a cottage. Electricity is infrequent and the running water is poisoned. Rose (Fiona Reid), a friend from their past, comes to visit. At first, it seems to be a social call; an old friend coming to see how everyone is doing following the devastation. Things are light and humourous but it is clear that all is not well. And Rose is there for a purpose.
The backstory of the characters is slowly revealed. While each one has made choices that they do not apologize for, their greatest regret is dropping the ball in protecting the environment for the children. Time and life are at odds for these characters. One is fighting time to stay alive for as long as possible because death is not an option. One has faced death and has lost that fear. The third is straddling between the two extremes of pursuing life’s vitality and mourning the passing for such games. Rose makes a proposition. In this plan, courage is needed to make a fateful decision- one that will help prevent further destruction of the land and the future for the children.
The cast is outstanding! They are electrifying as they walk a delicate line between anger, shock, and resolve. There is not one false note between them. It is a gift to watch some of the finest actors in Canada tackle such a heavy story.
While the setting never leaves the cottage, the text allows the audience to imagine the catastrophe and its devastations. Sounds of the sea and the lighting bring effects of the poisoned water – symbols of water that cannot be consumed but will subsume the people and the land.
The play’s title refers to the generation following the boomers. Although the children are now adults, the parents (and non-parents) still carry a sense of responsibility for their well-being and for their future. The Children asks how far one will go to make the sacrifice.
Photo Credit: Dahlia Katz
The Children: Presented by Centaur Theatre Company. Directed by Eda Holmes. Written by Lucy Kirkwood. Show continues to November 25, 2018, at the Centaur Theatre, 453 St-François-Xavier, Old Montreal. For tickets call the box office at 514-288-3161 or go to www.centaurtheatre.com