|Karen Vickery (Hazel) - Lainie Hart (Rose) - Michael Sparks (Robin) in "The Children"
Lucy Kirkwood – Directed by Tony Knight
Directors – Sophie Benassi and Bel Henderson – Choreography by Ylaria Rogers
design by Stephen Still – Sound design by Neville Pye
August 31 – September 9th 2023.
on September 1st reviewed by BILL STEPHENS
It’s productions like this one, by Chaika Theatre, which are quickly establishing the ACT Hub as one of the region’s most interesting theatres for those seeking outstanding productions of thoughtful, challenging plays.
Performed in a sparse setting, for which no designer is attributed, but representing a cottage kitchen enclosed by sandbags, Tony Knight’s astute direction focusses full attention on the three protagonists.
In the hands
of three actors as skilled as those in this cast, nothing more is necessary,
because part of the fascination of this production is watching the nuanced
decisions made by the actors as they interpret Lucy Kirkwood’s intelligent,
unobtrusive sound and lighting design, by Neville Pye and Stephen Still
respectively, are essential components in assisting the actors create the curious
sense of foreboding that makes this play
|Karen Vickery (Hazel) - Lainie Hart (Rose) in "The Children"
commences with the discovery of Rose (Lainie Hart) dealing with an unexpected nosebleed.
Not only is her nosebleed unexpected but so also is her visit to her friend Hazel
(Karen Vickery), who now lives in this sand-bagged cottage with her husband
Robin (Michael Sparks).
revealed that the two friends have not seen each other in over thirty years,
and as they excitedly try to bring each other up to date about their lives during
that time, their conversation, initially light hearted, ranges through
inevitable topics like ageing, menopause, grandchildren, Hazel’s eldest daughter,
Loren, and Rose’s boyfriend, Douglas.
also revealed that there has been a recent tsunami in the area, which flooded
the nearby nuclear powerhouse, creating a radiation scare and forcing Hazel and
Robin to abandon of their nearby farm, situated on the edge of the radiation
zone, which Robin visits daily to feed their cattle.
|Michael Sparks (Robin) - Lainie Hart (Rose) in "The Children"
returns from this chore, the three friends continue their reminisces, until it’s
revealed that Robin and Rose had been in a relationship before he married
Hazel, after which their barbs become more destructive and laden with
revelation that this relationship was not the reason Rose had returned, provides
the clue to the title of this fascinating play.
Each of the
three actors offers fascinating characterisations. Karen Vickery as the
ferocious, dominating Hazel, Lainie Hart as the wily, sophisticated Rose, and
Michael Sparks, venal and manipulative as Hazel’s husband and Rose’s ex-lover,
Robin, are brilliantly matched adversaries, whose sharply tuned responses and
non-verbal reactions are so masterfully achieved as to have the audience torn between
laughing at their antics or gasping at their revelations as each mines Lucy
Kirkwood’s clever, literate dialogue for opportunities.
Even so, their
skill doesn’t rely only on the dialogue; almost as potent is their body
language, especially in the unexpectedly hilarious dance sequence performed in
a moment of near hysteria.
A thoughtful, relevant play riffing on a subject which should concern every thinking adult, “The Children” is also terrific entertainment which showcases and celebrates the talents of three outstanding Canberra actors. The season is short but catch it if you possibly can.
Images by Jane Duong
This review also published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au