Now, as part of the 60th anniversary season of new writing at the Royal Court, Lucy Kirkwood premieres a main stage play about two retired nuclear scientists retreating from an unstable world. The drama centres around an old friend arriving with 'a frightening request'.
'Do you want to call your children?'
It's an enigmatic, intriguing premise, delving into the dark, futuristic terrains Kirkwood has already explored with aplomb in Tinderbox (Bush Theatre).
The Children begins with two middle aged women in a cottage, catching up after a long absence. The domestic details and cadences of conversation are intensely familiar - comforting even. The exchanges come with barbs and bristle of old connections calcified by time. But right from the offset, cosiness is undercut with a disquieting darkness.
‘The Disaster’ lurks belows the surface of banal conversations. We discover, gradually, through asides and references, that the characters are former Nuclear Scientists. 38 years ago they bonded over building and managing a power station. But since the explosion they live beyond an ‘exclusion zone’, on power rations and parsnip wine.
When a husband returns home the narrative knots into a love triangle - encompassing both the tenderness that time can’t numb and the imperceptible sparks of lust and intimacy. The humanity of the exchanges is striking, and the dialogue is charged with life, performed deftly by Ron Cook, Deborah Findlay and Francesca Annis.
As a near-future drama The Children cuts close the bone and probes pertinently into the present. But it is about so much more than ‘The Disaster’ at its core. The titular children - absent from the stage, referred to regularly - force the audience to consider what one generation owes the next.
But, on a more immediate level, those children represent the fruition of one romance at the expense of another.
Then at its most unbearably touching, the play is a celebration of the kind of women who are so easy to parody and undermine: the woman who organises and frets and wears suncream ‘just in case’; the woman who fights adversity with yoga, smiles and salads. Because, as this play so eloquently states, 'that woman holds up the world'.
|What||The Children, Royal Court review|
|Where||Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London, SW1W 8AS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Sloane Square (underground)|
17 Nov 16 – 14 Jan 17, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£10 - £38|
|Website||Click here to book via the Royal Court|