The Children (Jungle Theater)

the+children
Photo credit: Jungle Theater

About the Show

The Children takes place along the coast in England after a terrible natural disaster has led to nuclear issue. Hazel and Robin have moved to a new house after theirs was damaged and Rose, Robin’s one-time lover, has shown up unexpectedly. The three navigate their complex relationships and the decimated world around them, ultimately having to make difficult decisions about life, sacrifice, and morality.

Why I Chose to See It

Each production I see at the Jungle makes me love the new artistic leadership more and more. This is a regional premiere of a play that was just on Broadway in 2017 and I was intrigued by the promotions for this show which left a lot of what could happen in the play ambiguous. And I will pretty much see Stephen Yoakam in anything,

My Response

This play starts slow then pummels you through an emotional roller coaster. I went into this show knowing next to nothing about it (other than I kept seeing gas masks show up in promotions for it at other theaters). I feel inclined not to give away too much about this show as there’s something particularly poignant with this piece going in not knowing what’s going to happen and if you can entirely believe what you see. The show is title after unseen figures in the play – the children of Robin and Hazel, and other children in the world, who are being affected and having their lives shortened by something that was beyond their control, but in some ways could have its damage reduced by their parents. Generational and economic struggles are gestured to without soapboxing or allowing for easy answers. Another theme is living with less, something that Robin and Hazel especially struggle with. As I’m in the midst of vegan January (something I chose to do for animal and environmental welfare reasons), this particularly struck me. On top of the unexpected outrage toward Marie Kondo, this echoed the outrage that comes with a certain level of privilege when people are asked to reduce. There’s also a certain striking juxtaposition here of great terrible danger outside and general peace that’s found in the cottage by the sea where Robin and Hazel live that eases the audience into thinking that things are alright because they are for this couple – when the rest of the world is greatly suffering.  Hazel is disinclined towards risks, wants to lengthen her life as long as possible, and in some ways refuses to accept that death is inevitable, something I think wonderfully articulates the resistance and refusal I see again and again of those who are afraid to actually to work towards change lest they lose something due to it. For Hazel, it’s better to stay where they are and muddle through, hoping things will get better, rather than making the sacrifices that will actually change things – or so we hope.

Overall

This play is powerful, thought-provoking, incredibly timely (what with the government shutdown, repeated reports about the effects of global warming and changing temperatures here in Minnesota, and general continual fear/dread that seems to have become normalized in society), and one that deserves lots of discussion and pondering over afterwards. It’s an uneasy, ponderous play but it’s one that certainly deserves attention and I hope will spark conversation.

General Information

The Children is written by Lucy Kirkwood and directed by Casey Stangl. It is playing now through February 10th at the Jungle Theater. Ticket and show information can be found on the Jungle’s website.

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