Monday, February 17, 2020

"The Children" ☼ ☼ ☼

Hazel (Julie Eccles) and Robin (James Carpenter) are retired husband-and-wife nuclear scientists who seem to be living a mundane, normal life in a seaside town somewhere not far from the nuclear reactor in which they spent their working lives. We come to understand there has been some kind of Fukushima-style disaster in the recent past and the town and environs have been dangerously exposed to radiation. 

Enter Rose (Anne Darragh), a fellow former worker at the plant who shows up at Hazel and Robin's cottage unannounced after a thirty year absence. She has a proposal to make to Hazel and Robin, involving an attempt to settle the guilt all three feel at how the work they did led to such terrible consequences for so many innocent people.

There is a great deal going on under the radar. Hazel distrusts Rose for good reason, which of course involves Robin.

It takes awhile for Rose to get to the purpose of her visit, but eventually we understand that story cuts deeper than a simple love-triangle. Author Lucy Kirkwood has put her finger on an issue that plagues us in modern America: who is responsible for the social and ecological disasters our generation has visited upon the next? What shall we choose to do about it?

The three actors are all Bay Area favorites. Carpenter and Eccles are especially effective, and their characters are more nuanced. Still, we would have liked to see director Barbara Damashek shake Rose's proposal out of her sooner. Far less time is devoted to the urgent ethical issues posed here than to the less important discovery of the relationships of each character to each other, Love is not all you need. Courage is even more crucial.

RATINGS  ☼ ☼ ☼

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division grants "The Children" Three Stars. We loved the acting, story and costumes by Cassandra Carpenter. Though Lucy Kirkwood's title is "The Children," her story is more about the problems faced by us adults in a confusing and guilt-ridden world.

"The Children"
The Aurora Theatre
2081 Addison St., Berkeley
Through March 1

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