Preview: The Children

Vanessa Tang 20 February 2022
Image Credit: The ADC Theatre

The Children is a play about elderly protagonists and their children, along with the millions of other children that make up society. In short, it’s about everyone. But, it is this scope that attracted James Critchley, the director, to it first!

James, explaining his motivation for pitching and developing the show for the Corpus screen, asserted: ‘It could not be more relevant! Not just politically but what I love about it is that it deals with issues of an enormous scale – of universal importance – in a setting that is contained, cosy, and inescapably familiar to us all. I was drawn to its humour when I first read it; and I want the audience to get a sense of how it is a play not just about big-picture issues but also with concerns of a much more intimate, inter-personal nature.’

The show is centred around three retired nuclear engineers who live amongst the aftermath of a recent meltdown of their former plant: Rose, Hazel, and Robin. The play begins with the return of Rose, who holds secrets that could tear Hazel and Robin’s comfortable life apart. What has she been up to in her absence? Most importantly, what is she here for now? How far will the characters go for The Children – their own and others?

Emma Gibson, the assistant director, wants full disclosure: while the show is ‘one that asks a lot of questions, it doesn’t necessarily give a lot of answers’. This is because The Children surrounds the inconclusive political debates that constitute our current climate. Answers are just impossible with issues this complex.

But don’t worry, watching The Children isn’t just going to give you mega climate anxiety – it’s also slightly funny! It is the ability of the show to make the audience want to simultaneously laugh and cry that makes it so unique. Emma describes the show as ‘taking you from knee-slapping middle-class-mocking hilarity to poignantly sobering moments of honesty.’ James also agrees with Emma’s statement, characterising the experience of watching The Children as being ‘moved through knee-slapping humour to heart-breaking sadness and back again.’

The cast is similarly excited to bring the show to life on stage. James attributes this to a small cast allowing the team to ‘approach the text slowly and in detail’ so that ‘the three actors have been able to shape and inhabit their characters with great precision.’ More importantly, the development process has been ‘full of laughs’ – in the script and outside of it! Jemima Langdon, who plays Rose is excited to share Kirkwood’s characters who are both all ‘dislikeable in their own right’ and ‘you are able to feel empathetic towards.’ Adam Keenan, who plays Robin says: ‘This play challenges us, the middle-classes, to reflect on the sort of legacy we’ll leave behind once our time comes. Come see the thing!’ If Adam says you should, you should!

Experience the full spectrum of emotion and engage in a dialogue about the modern world that isn’t going to leave you empty inside afterwards: come see The Children this week! Get your tickets at:!