"The play begins with the arrival of Rose with a couple of secrets that could tear Hazel and Robin’s comfortable life apart"Photo/ Alex Huntley

This week (22-26th February), Lucy Kirkwood’s disaster drama The Children is coming to the Corpus Playroom’s stage, and we couldn’t be more excited. The main characters of The Children, Hazel and Robin, are elderly retired nuclear engineers living in the aftermath of the recent meltdown of their former plant. In their claustrophobic cottage beside the sea, they live with disaster everyday: saving power, staying inside, and trying to stay healthy in their old age. The play begins with the arrival of Rose with a couple of secrets that could tear Hazel and Robin’s comfortable life apart.  

The Children addresses pressing political problems that are relevant to our current society. “It’s an urgent bit of theatre, both politically and socially,” asserts director James Critchley. Jemima Langdon, who plays Rose, agrees: “The worryingly realistic world Kirkwood creates is an important reflection on our current attitude towards generating power.”   

“It’s an urgent bit of theatre, both politically and socially"

But to paint a portrait of a play that is simply social commentary would do The Children a disservice. The Children is as much about individuals as it is about society. It’s about illnesses and jealousies – the intricacies that make up everyday life. This is because the characters of The Children know the essential truth that we have all learnt during the pandemic – the show must go on! The elderly characters move through crisis after crisis with vitality and vigour.

Adam Keenan, who plays Robin, points out that the play “navigates themes of mortality and duty in a witty, perennial and thoughtful way”. This is a sentiment shared by James: “We are moved through knee-slapping humour, to heart-breaking sadness and back again. It’s a dazzlingly beautiful script – one whose world I look forward to sharing with you all.” It is this co-existence of crisis and beauty that speaks to our current situation so powerfully. 

We all agree that bringing The Children to the stage has been an intense, immersive experience. I spoke to the cast and crew about the performance process.

"It’s a dazzlingly beautiful script"

How has developing The Children been for you? 

James Critchley, the director: The Children has been a beautifully collaborative project. Having a small cast has allowed us to approach the text slowly and in detail, and the three actors have been able to shape and inhabit their characters with great precision. It’s been full of laughs: and I hope that this sense of cohesion within the cast will shine when the play makes it to the stage.  

Emma Gibson, the assistant director: Working on The Children has been incredibly exciting! The script is incredible – it is something that already seems so full of life – and watching the performers actualise that onstage is something really special.   

Jemima Langdon, Rose: The Children is such a brilliant piece of theatre. It’s a pleasure to perform. I love that Lucy Kirkwood has managed to create three characters, who, although they are each unlikeable in their own right, are easy to empathise with. 

Hetty Opayinka, assistant producer: As assistant producer, I’ve helped to make the play come to life. I’ve had to consider how best to make a nosebleed happen on stag, and which ingredients work best in a fake salad. It’s been great to problem-solve in this way and I’ve enjoyed the challenge! 

What are you most excited for?  


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Emma Gibson: I am super excited to see how the audience react to the show. It’s one that asks a lot of questions and maybe doesn’t necessarily give a lot of answers, all the while taking you from knee-slapping middle-class-mocking hilarity to poignantly sobering moments of honesty.  

Adam Keenan, Robin: I agree. This play challenges us to reflect on the sort of legacy we'll leave behind once our time comes. Come see the thing!

The Children is playing on Tuesday 22nd- Saturday 26th February at the Corpus Playroom at 7pm.