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A reviews round-up for Lucy Kirkwood’s new play The Children at the Royal Court Theatre.

Award-winning writer Lucy Kirkwood (Chimerica, NSFW) collaborates with director James Macdonald (Escaped Alone, The Father) in an intimate new drama about three old friends teetering on the edge of extinction.

Starring Francesca Annis, Ron Cook and Deborah Findlay, Kirkwood’s slow-burning drama asks profound questions.

Here’s a round up of reviews from The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, Evening Standard, Time Out and The Stage.

The Children runs until 14 January 2017 at the Royal Court Theatre.

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REVIEWS ROUND-UP

STAR RATING Time Out

“The Children remains tantalisingly hard to define: it is about age, responsibility, and a reckoning, of sorts. It is a love triangle. It is a young playwright writing inquisitively about her parents’ generation. “

“James McDonald’s production is also a fine character piece: Annis’s reserved, sly Rose, Cook’s sometimes excruciatingly unreconstructed Robin and Findlay’s square, sentimental Hazel all spark off each other beautifully”

Andrzej Lukowski – TimeOut

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STAR RATING The Independent

“Lucy Kirkwood is the most rewarding dramatist of her generation. Kirkwood’s new play is a richly suggestive and beautifully written piece of work, provoking questions that will continue to nag and expand in your mind long after the lights have slowly died on its extraordinary final sequence.”

“The genius of the play, though, is to embed its preoccupations in a humane, tragicomic scenario that is never, despite the circumstances, portentous or clangingly apocalyptic in tone. It’s typical that it opens with the partly farcical, partly eerie spectacle of Rose recovering from a nose-bleed, brought on by Hazel who had mistaken this woman, whom she had not seen for four decades and thought dead, for an intruder. In a brilliantly funny and sad performance, Deborah Findlay shows the fussing Hazel’s ill-concealed resentment of her visitor whom she notices is suspiciously au fait with the lay-out of the cottage.”

Paul Taylor – The Independent

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STAR RATING Evening Standard

 

“Lucy Kirkwood’s latest meanders along but has much to offer. In this three-hander Kirkwood refreshingly presents characters very rarely seen on our stages: (sexually) active sixty-somethings.  The finest work comes from an intriguingly enigmatic Annis, who compellingly suggests the beating heart under Rose’s rather distant professional exterior.”

 

 

Fiona Mountford – Evening Standard

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STAR RATING The Daily Telegraph

“It has a pressing, provocative question at its heart – about the responsibility of the older generation towards the younger. But the most apt comparison (rather a shock, given that the play is being staged at the modish Royal Court) would be with The Archers.”

“You take in the finer details of Miriam Buether’s slightly tilted set, fully realised down to its little recycling bin and the way the floor creaks overhead whenever someone stomps upstairs. And bit by bit you piece together the relationship between the two women and, completing the trio, Ron Cook’s weary but, it transpires, wily Robin, Hazel’s farmer husband. “

“All kinds of undercurrents swirl beneath the conversational ebbs and flows, by turns convivial and toxic. This isn’t Pinter, even if it bears passing relation to Old Times. It displays a fine eye for niggling details as well as the broader picture. Like the no-nonsense Margo in The Good Life, the uptight Hazel hilariously fixates on the consequences of putting the wrong kind of waste in the maws of the downstairs loo macerator, but it’s other kinds of mess, personal and industrial, that loom larger as the night steals on. There’s a rare warmth, too, evidenced by a glorious, tragicomic and nostalgic dance-along to James Brown.”

Dominic Maxwell – The Telegraph

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STAR RATING The Guardian

“Raises profound questions about whether having children sharpens, or diminishes, one’s sense of social responsibility.”

“It’s a slow-burn play but one that raises profound questions about whether having children sharpens, or diminishes, one’s sense of social responsibility.”

“James Macdonald’s production and Miriam Buether’s design are equally meticulous in creating a world of precarious normality: the cottage itself is almost spartan in its severity. The performances are also very good. Deborah Findlay as Hazel is the epitome of rural capability yet subtly hints at her unresolved rage, based on past experience, towards her unwanted visitor. Francesca Annis as Rose cleverly suggests a woman who nurses private and public secrets and who is insouciantly aware of her sexual power. The hardest part is that of Robin, but Ron Cook admirably conveys the unreformed roguishness of a one-time laboratory lech.”

“Kirkwood takes her time. She has, however, written a genuinely disturbing play.”

Michael Billington – The Guardian

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STAR RATING The Stage

“The Children is a witty, slippery play of debate as well as an engaging character study, particularly in its portrait of the sexual lives of the 60-something characters.”

“The play poses a lot of questions about inheritance, societal responsibility, the wreckage that one generation has left for the next and the necessity of stepping aside so that one’s children can live.”

“Francesca Annis, with that extraordinarily sculptural face of hers, is magnificently poised as Rose and Deborah Findlay performs a brilliant balancing act as the brisk, efficient, uptight Hazel, irritating yet not unsympathetic. Her passive aggressive use of the phrase “number two” is a joy. Ron Cook’s gruff, amiable performance as Robin provides us with glimpses of the man that both women loved and coveted.”

Natasha Tripney – The Stage

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