The Children – Gate Theatre – Review
Until 23rd March 2019
We meet Rose (Ger Ryan) as she stands centre stage, staring out at the audience. There is someone off-stage shouting at her, telling her to pinch her nose. She has recently had a nose bleed and Hazel (Marie Mullen) is trying to help her by getting a cloth. Hazel lives in a remote holiday home on the coast, along with her husband Robin (Seán McGinley). Hazel hasn’t seen Rose in many years and thought she was dead, so it was quite a surprise when she turned up at their door. All three worked together at a nearby nuclear power station. There was recently an incident at the facility which has changed life in the locality forever. Hazel has returned to meet the couple with a proposal.
Lucy Kirkwood is an English playwright born in 1984. She wrote the Children in 2016 and it premièred in London’s Royal Court Theatre in November of that year. The same production transferred to the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway in 2017, where it was nominated for two Tony awards (Best Play and Best Performance by an Actress). The play was inspired by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan and deals with the ‘fall out’ such an event has on the lives of those who live in the vicinity.
It is difficult to place where this production is set. Both Hazel (Marie Mullen) and Robin (Seán McGinley) speak in Irish accents. Rose (Ger Ryan) has an American accent and is said to have lived many years in the states. The original production was set in England and we can only presume that this is set there also, although it does seem unlikely to have two Irish physicists on the payroll in the 80s!
While Marie Mullen has many talents, she would not be the first name you would think of to play a Nuclear Physicist! She does make up for it in many other ways though, with impeccable timing and genuine warmth. Ger Ryan seems a perfect choice for the part of Rose, a hard headed career woman who was hugely successful in some regards but less so with her personal life. Seán McGinley plays Robin as the joker of the pack. As he has a history with both women, he is in a difficult situation and you can feel his nervous energy throughout.
The play takes place in the kitchen of the holiday home. Sarah Bacon has created an impressive rendition of a lacklustre house with wood panelling on the walls and ugly green cupboards in the kitchen. It makes the play seem timeless and works well.
Despite not having seen each other for nearly 40 years, as the home brew parsnip wine starts to flow, a lot is revealed about the time the protagonists spent together and what happened in the intervening years. The play is a complex work which delves into mortality and also how easily our modern lives could fundamentally change. It is a play that marks out playwright Lucy Kirkwood as one to watch and this is an engrossing production of the work.
Cast & Creatives
Cast includes: Seán McGinley, Marie Mullen and Ger Ryan
Director Oonagh Murphy
Movement Direction – David Bolger
Set & Costume Designer Sarah Bacon
Lighting Designer Sinéad McKenna
Sound DesignerKevin Gleeson
Assistant Set DesignerStefania Pantavos