What are each of us doing for the well-being of the planet and what does it mean?

The Children at MOXIE Theatre sets a vibe between generations with a Millennial Take on Baby Boomer Behavior  

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

The cast of The Children. Photo by Daren Scott

British plays are definitely different in feel and context. At least for me in my Mexican, border, Americanized culture, it takes me a while to understand them. This year, theatres ventured into the British play world. They offered San Diego audiences a taste of a couple of them like the lusty classic Abigail's Party with Backyard Renaissance, The Homecoming, a total rabbit hole presented by North Coast Rep. Now towards the end of the year, MOXIE theatre brings the San Diego premiere of The Children by Lucy Kirkwood. The first two plays have things in common: they were both set in the 60s/70s and written by men. Here, aside from being written by a woman which I think there should be more of in all theatres -produced plays by women playwrights- this is a new piece that premiered in London just 6 years ago and 5 on Broadway.

It is the first play I have seen by Kirkwood and I am looking forward to seeing more. The take in The Children has a total older Millennial vibe set on Baby Boomer characters. The story starts out inside a cottage in the middle of nowhere on the British coast, there is no electricity during the day and the day-to-day dynamic has changed due to a major nuclear disaster at a power station. 

Catalina Maynard in The Children. Photo by Daren Scott

Rose (Catalina Maynard) who's a nuclear physicist, comes into the cottage with a bloody nose. Not only did she surprise former co-worker and fellow physicist Hazel (Vanessa Dinning), she gave her a great scare as Hazel thought that Rose was dead and hits her with the door on her way in. Once both are settled and the blood has been toweled off, the old pals catch up. Rose moved continents, worked in the United States for a while, did not get married, and did not have any children. She asks about Hazel's oldest daughter Lauren. They have not seen each other in over 30 years, so Rose also asks, "did you have more children after Lauren?" Hazel had three more children, and all are in their thirties.

Both Hazel and her husband Robin (Neil McDonald) also a physicist, are retired and had a dairy farm that they had to evacuate due to safety and health concerns because of the radiation disaster. Hazel starts making lunch while explaining how their life has been since they left the farm. Robin comes home from precisely being at the farm where he spends every day and greets Rose. Glances are exchanged and once Hazel leaves to tend to a phone call, Rose and Robin start arguing, claims take place and Rose scolds him for having more children after Lauren. With the already existing tension, Hazel comes back to the kitchen and more raw exchanges take place. There is a clogged toilet, truths come out and Rose discloses not only her illness but the real reason she went to see them. 

Julie Lorenz's set design of the kitchen within the cottage is the perfect setting for this puzzling drama. It is detailed, looks, and feels used up which also adds a sense of Hazel and Robin's marriage. There was also the choice of centering the set, putting it right in the middle, and adorning the sides with black curtains giving it as well a 3D feel and deepness. Lorenz's design definitely reflects thought and as an audience member, that definitely is appreciated. The play unfolds mostly with Catalina and Vanessa and even though the exchanges go at a paced rhythm taking their time, the tension is always there. Kim Strassburger's direction is precise and thanks to that paced rhythm, it is curious to say but, you can feel the huge baggage lurking in these women's relationship. I credit that amazing invisible illustration to Intimacy Coordinator, Kandace Crystal. Seeing women in their late sixties hash it out like young girls because of all the unresolved drama was fascinating and relatable. Anyone sensitive enough will get it but mostly, people with baby-boomer parents and I believe Lucky Kirkwood has an issue of her own that she working through the play and layers an interesting quality through this Millennial take I mention both questioning and claiming what the past generation did to the planet and what the future will hold with what is left for the newer generations, the children. I felt it to be very present and wrapping up the piece -not the drama- with the message and you better take care of your mess.

Vanessa Dinning and Neil McDonald in The Children. Photo by Daren Scott

Neil McDonald's performance is shorter but deep. Robin has a million skeletons in the closet that are running out of space. McDonald's portrayal, in the beginning, seems to blend in with his fellow actors but then gets its own space having a direct tacit convo with the audience.

The creative team for The Children also includes Assistant Director Sandy Campbell, Stage Manager Gabby Stryker, Assistant Stage Manager Danielle Dudley, Set Designer Julie Lorenz, Costume Designer Carmen Amon, Lighting Designer: Ally Wood, Assistant Lighting Designer: Minerva Josiff Sound Designer: MaeAnn Ross, Assistant Sound Designer Sasha Gomulka, Props Designer Rai Feltmann, Technical Director Robert Malave, Dialect Coach Jo Anne Glover, Wig Designer Missy Bradstreet and Production Manager Desireé Clarke.

The Children is one of those plays that will leave audiences marinating theories and rethinking about what they saw. I believe it is the perfect deep conversation starter. Go and get your own take on it and have your own conversations. I mean, what are each of us doing for the well-being of the planet and what does it mean in our own generations?

Currently playing at MOXIE Theatre until December 4. There will be an ASL Performance on November 27 and no performance on Thursday, November 24 in observance of the holiday.

There are $15 RUSH tickets available at the Box Office 1 hour before each performance. For more information on performance times and dates please click here.

Please note that MOXIE Theatre requires proof of vaccination upon entering the space.

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