Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

children trio

Skye Witney as Hazel, Tom Rees as Robin and Sue Downing as Rose

 The Children

The Nonentities

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


In the wake of our coming to terms with Covid and all of its issues, The Children by Lucy Kirkwood, written in 2016, remains a powerful and thought-provoking play which here explores the aftermath of a nuclear disaster in the United Kingdom. The play premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London, and it has since been performed around the world.

The Children was inspired by the Fukushima nuclear disaster which occurred in Japan in 2011. Kirkwood noted the way that the media coverage of the disaster focused on the immediate result and the technical details, rather than the long-term consequences and emotional damage for the people who lived in the affected area.

Set in the aftermath of such a disaster, three central characters, all retired nuclear engineers, grapple with the consequences of their past decisions. The play raises questions about our own responsibility when disaster strikes and the sacrifices we might have to or are willing to make for the sake of a younger generation.

Although the issues are immense it’s an intimate story set mainly in the kitchen area of the character's home which makes it perfect for the Studio theatre. Whilst the set design was minimal the performances were anything but as it is a play that swings from comedy to intrigue to heartache and confrontation in a moment,

Sue Downing as Rose brought out the uneasy nature of her character. Rose is a woman whose failure in her past relationships and her illness presents her with a final choice to be valiant in the face of the disaster. She’s returned after many years with a request that will change everyone’s lives.

Skye Witney who I have not seen before in such a lead commanding role was excellent and very fluent in her delivery of Hazel. Hazel is a former work colleague to Rose and now wife of Robin. Her sarcastic jealousy over Rose’s easy life choices ebbed and flowed throughout her performance.

Finally there is Robin played by Tom Rees. Robin is the serial womaniser having had a long affair with Rose and now married with children to Hazel. Mr Rees played Robin, as a charming and affable but at times forceful and overbearing man whose guilt and regret simmer just beneath the surface.

As the characters struggle with their reunion it’s clear that their secret illnesses come to have a bearing on a final act of sacrifice. It’s a poignant question that hangs over them and for any of us of how far you would go and the impact of those actions for us and for future generations.

Kirkwood has packed as much a she can into this two act drama, from moments of high farce to tender emotion and uneasy resolution to the final moments of their quiet submission to their impending fate.

With the very capable hands of director Stephen Downing at the helm and three very skilful players sailing the ship, this performance would be something of a disaster if you were to miss it. To 01-04-23

Jeff Grant


The Nonentities 

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